Making Gifts Using Clear Vinyl

For those of you who may not know. Sewing with clear vinyl can be a troubling task for the uninitiated. I managed to make gifts this year using clear vinyl and I have a tip or two as well as my general showing off 🙂

img_0009Above is a project bag. I made it for a friend for her birthday and I am quite proud. These little suckers go for about $16-$20+ on Amazon and at our local quilt shops. They are incredibly handy and easy to drop money on. I found an $8 pattern on Craftsy  and voila! I can make as many as I want. A little clear vinyl, a little fabric, ribbon and fusible fleece from my stash and we’re good to go. I filled it with notions I knew she’d love and finally I had a gift that I thought she’d really appreciate (and it went over pretty darned well if I do say so myself).

Another friend of mine (the panda mom from my previous post) had a baby shower and I decided to bite the bullet and actually make her an item instead of going to Baby’s R Us ( I find that place overwhelming and knowing nothing about babies I am simply lost):

unspecified unspecified-1So I went on Pinterest and found this awesome changing mat pattern for free. It folds up into the clutch type deal above. Note, if you decide to make it, I added a few inches all the way around after reading her blog comments so that it might last them a little bit longer. It really was rather quick and easy…and I mean that…I am not a speedy sewist. To add to the joy she actually uses it, all the time!

Here are a few tips for sewing with vinyl:

  • Use a “teflon foot” they can be cheap click here. It is a non-stick foot that glides over the vinyl. If you want to go low tech you can put scotch tape on the bottom of the foot but, of course, then you get to take it off with all that may entail.
  • Use tissue paper. If you do not have a teflon foot or you need non-stick on the bottom as well as the top just use plain old tissue paper that you would use for gift wrapping. Sew right through it and then rip it off. It is crazy how well that works.
  • Use a towel to iron out your vinyl. Inevitably your vinyl will get crinkled/wrinkled/wavy. You can fix this. Obviously you can’t put your iron straight on the plastic vinyl but if you put a towel over it you will be all good. Interestingly, it may not seem fully flat at first but once you have sewn it and let it “rest” it will be perfect in no time.

For my non-sewers, I would apologize for that last bit but…nah…welcome to my world. I find this stuff fascinating. In the same way I don’t know why everyone doesn’t want to be a librarian/kickboxer/biker enthusiast…

I wish you to be well and happy.

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Panda Baby Quilt Made With a Friend

Around March/April a quilty girlfriend and I decided that our other pregnant quilty friend needed a baby quilt…as one does. She found this free pattern on the Fat Quarter Shop website called Panda-Monium. We really just used it as a jumping off point. Their version has the center panda with the bamboo as pictured below.

img_0015First, we doubled the size…with some difficulty as quilty math is not our strong point.

img_0016Then we added some more bamboo on the sides and a bit of sky to the top and green foliage type material to the bottom.

img_0017Once completed I took the quilt to my local long arm shop and used some of my hours to quilt it up.

I basically did stippling in the bear parts and a swirly kind of windy design in the background… I also did leaves in the green foliage but I don’t have a good picture of that part.

img_0004 In the end (around September) we have a rather largish baby quilt that Apollo approved.

We kept it a secret until our quilt guild meeting where we presented it to her and we got the happy cry. Success!

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Koala Cuddles Quilt Finished and Sent!

Okay so I am a bit late to post this one, the quilt was sent around April….to Australia. It did take about a month to get there and I didn’t want to post until it was received but the receiving end took me back a bit and made me do a little thinking. As usual, I digress, let’s begin with the finish.

Koala Quilt Apr 18, 2016 (1)The original pattern came from the December 2016 Quiltmaker magazine:

QM Dec 2016-Koala Quilt

I spent an exorbitant amount of time quilting it here are some of the highlights:

Koala Foot Apr 18, 2016 I tried to make the tree look a little more like wood.

Koala Quilt Corner Apr 18, 2016 It’s hard to see but I put butterflies in the corners.

Koala Quilt Head Apr 18, 2016

I stippled all of the koala fur to look a little more natural.

Koala Vine Close-UpApr 18, 2016 Again, hard to see, but I put leaves in the green border.

2016-09-05 09.49.33 ….and once it was received they posted this picture of the “beautiful hand made quilt they received from Alison Gurganus”. Yes, that is the back of the quilt. To make matters worse they posted yet another picture of baby with the back of the quilt later. I have yet to see any proof that they have noticed the front of the quilt. Sigh…..

This reminds me of another quilt I sent a while back remember the Storm at Sea quilt? Well, this was the first picture I received of that one:

2015-12-23 13.59.56You may not recognize it because that too, would be the back of the quilt.

I realize that once I have sent along a quilt it is no longer mine and the recipient may do whatever they wish with it. I guess I just always hope that they will recognize the quilting/piecing in some way.

So to cleanse my palette a bit I am planning on giving my next few quilts to those that I know have an appreciation of the work. I feel a little selfish in that decision but it is a little deflating to see you know….the above.

The good news is a surprise quilt was just finished for a quilty friend, very cute, just wait and see.

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A Look Back at Some of the Bags From 2015

Currently, I am working on three super secret quilts and one is in the mail, so those will have to wait. In the meantime, I thought I could do a little catch-up. While I feel that 2015 was not my most productive year due to some health issues, I did get some fun stuff accomplished. Here is a look at a majority of the bags and pouches I made. I’ll start with the most impressive and work my way down.

First up: The Blanche Barrel Bag by Swoon Sewing Pattern 

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The inside has a lovely zip pocket and orange sewing machine fabric. I made it to handle my new little travel machine which is a Janome Derby.

2015-06-25 18.57.18

Although it fits beautifully I think the bag will need to be repurposed because the machine is not quite right. The price was right at well under $100 and it is about 5 lbs. which is awesome but it really is for a little kid. The presser foot does not change out, it only goes one slow speed and there is no light…oh, and it is loud. I think I will find a worthy friend with kids for it. In the meantime I will wait for an occasion to buy a different travel machine.

But I digress…as I do…

The next bag is my “Sew Together Bag”  by Sew Demented. If you are in the quilty, bag makey world, you may have heard of this bag. Making one is supposed to be like crack, one simply must make more! As of yet, I have only made the one and although I love it, I may leave this bag obsession to my friends in quilty land.

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I made it (in two-ish days after I had cut the pieces…I understand it goes faster the second time) at a lovely retreat with my quilt guild up in the mountains of Big Bear, California.

2015-09-24 17.06.43 HDR This is where all of the sewing magic happened! The retreat is called “Inspirations” …so awesome! I hadn’t been to the mountains in ages and it was so peaceful..and we were fed…and we had quilts on all of our beds…and our caretaker Lorraine even made little quilty type gifts for us all. I hope my guild has another one there.

At yet another retreat I made the Beatle Bag by Abbey Lane Quilts

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The retreat was Sewtopia in Portland, Oregon. I went with my mom and she made one too.

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This bag took a few days as well but I fully expected it on this one. Although I really like this bag, and I know what it is intended for, I have not found a good use for it yet. It seems kind of bulky. Perhaps my next English Paper Piecing Project…

I also made myself a little “pencil bag” which ended up being too small for pencils and frankly, a horrible pattern. I guess it was free for a reason, it did come out cute though.

2015-09-02 09.44.37

Lastly, I made some relatives zipper pouches to put Christmas gifts in:

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The good Apollo had to help with the photo taking.

…and there’s a little update on the bag-o-rama of 2015. With luck, I can show you some of my super secret projects soon.

Posted in Bags, Finished!, hand made bags, Little Sewing Projects, Sewing Retreat, Sewtopia, zippered pouch | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Back With a Finish to Show You!

2016-01-08 16.36.29.jpg Well Hello!

Sooooo, I’ve been away. Mainly health issues that are under control for the time being.

2015-12-31 14.36.31.jpgHowever, that did not stop me from being all quilty crafty, okay, it slowed me down quite a bit but looking back I was surprisingly productive.

The real news is the big finish. (Not the best picture, I know, we took it at night to be sent out first thing in the morning).

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That sucker, aka Blue Oasis, took about a year to finish due to the health stuff. It was promised and started at Christmas time 2014 and got to the recipient by about Christmas time 2015. The recipient is my brother in law who chose the pattern from a Pinterest board I created for him. The pattern comes from this book:

10652D__62124.1406085871.1104.1280.jpgWhich can be purchased and printed on demand from C&T Pubishing


I managed to make some coasters out of the scraps from the quilt as well. I loved doing that. I think I might make that little extra a habit. 2015-12-15 16.48.48-1.jpg. If you are wondering where the UNC fabric came from that was on the back.

…and in case you are wondering it was a foundation paper pieced quilt so all the little pieces had to be removed once the top was finished. Yippee, or as I like to say “it’s about the process”.

2015-05-10 09.10.13-1.jpg

So, there’s a little something to welcome you back to my world. I think for the next little while I will be skipping back and forth from current projects to things I accomplished over last year. That should give me quit a bit to write about for a while.

Posted in Big(ger) Quilting Projects, Finished!, Foundation Piecing, Paper Piecing | 1 Comment

A Happy Look Back at Quiltcon

IMG_0824So QuiltCon was fun.

I know, it’s been a while. I realized the last time I wrote I was on my way to Austin for a big adventure. As you can see, even though I went alone, I had plenty of quilty excitement.

Ninja PouchFirst off, I made this matchy ninja pouch for my bag (see last post). I made it with fusible fleece but I think next time I should either double the fleece or use something stiffer. This one, big as it is, is a little slouchy when it is not full. IMG_0834

I also made this little purse that was big enough for my new iPhone 6+ (thank you honey) and money and such. I know the pics are less than fantastic, I was so excited to finally post that I didn’t touch up much and this picture was taken in the lobby on my jacket. I got the pattern from a QuiltNow magazine. I’ll change a few things when I make it again but I do really love it. IMG_0812Back to the matter at hand

IMG_0837I took some great classes like this one with Christy Fincher where we did curved piecing without pins! This was my masterpiece…

IMG_0846These are the class masterpieces.

IMG_0836I also took a class on a new way to do cathedral windows with Johanna Masko. I managed to get the center done. As you might imagine I still have the rest to work on and somehow I can’t find those little squares anymore, honestly I have no idea what happened to them. Fortunately I have more of those fabrics, shocked?

IMG_0859I also took a class with the ever so famous and gracious Angela Walters. It was a free motion quilting class on these huge long arm machines and it was great practice but I don’t have much physically to show for it, I decided the practice quilt did not need to go home with me.

I took two other classes: Yoshiko Jinzenji taught us how to use crazy fabrics I haven’t been near since my costume construction days in college (in the late 80’s). We made these really fun pillows in lightening speed. Perhaps when I finish it up I’ll post a picture. Lastly, I took a late night embroidery class with Alison Glass. I have never embroidered before so that was a really neat experience. I’d like to play around some more with that to add to my quilty arsenal.

I also went to a plethora of lectures with equally famous quilters. So much fun in such a short time.

IMG_0819Don’t get me wrong there was a bit of partying as well. Don’t you love the beer cups supplied at the Moda party? You know I swiped some clean ones and took them home for thread catchers.

IMG_0833The show floor was a ball too. I made this pincushion at the Cotton and Steel booth where they had sewing machines and scraps of their fabric to play with.

IMG_0821I even got a very generous swag bag from MassDrop. If you haven’t experienced them yet, I warn you, they are full of quilty goodness.

I would show pictures from the actual show but I don’t have permission from any of the artists and they are pretty easy to find on the inter webs. I just wish they had laid out the quilts in a more systematic manner, I spent hours looking at those quilts and some I saw multiple times, others I missed entirely. Sad, but hopefully they’ll change that next year in Pasadena. Next time I’m bringing mom! I can’t wait.


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My Ninja QuiltCon Bag

In preparation for QuiltCon I decided to make myself a bag for all those classes I had signed for.


Meet my Little Ninja Bag. We have a little Ninja girl on one side

IMG_0793And Kuromi (the evil Hello Kitty character and my little mascot) on the other side.

IMG_0799I have a double inset zipper on top and I kind of made my little ninja’s hold hands.

Ninja BagThe inside has pockets (hard to see with this fabric, I know, but trust me, they’re there).


And there are some nice little elasticized pockets on the sides which are great for carrying water bottles of all sizes.

IMG_0787IMG_0786Here are a few process pictures of the pockets and bag as I was putting it together.

The bag pattern is from Craftsy, it’s called The Sweet Retreat’s Little Sister Tote Bag. The fabric is an old Robert Kaufman in a line called I am Ninja. The patches I got off of Amazon.

Of course with “some” of the extra fabric I made a matching zipper pouch

Ninja Pouch

It’s rather roomy and hold all of my extra scissors and accoutrements. Yeah matchy matchy!

I’m learning just a little more with every bag and it’s so gratifying in between long quilting projects.


Posted in Finished!, hand made bags, zippered pouch | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Some Finished Projects from 2014

First I’d like to introduce you to

Work Tote

my Work Tote. It is the same Bijou Lovely pattern I used for my Market Tote that I used in a swap at my guild in April. I’ve been using it everyday and I love it!

Next up


I made a sweet little zipper pouch for another swap at my guild. This one I created as a challenge. I chose some fabric that I normally would not use and tried to make something pretty. I am very pleased with the outcome. I used a pattern I have used before by Atkinson Designs.

I also had a WIP I finished


I started this pillow at the Riley Blake Fabric Fest in Vegas over a year ago. It was an improv piecing class exercise that needed a home. I put minky on the back and made my own gray piping for the edges. This is my first pillow so I am rather pleased.

There were also some Bee Blocks


These are polaroid blocks, they turned out so great I “almost” want to make a quilt out of these myself. HOWEVER, I did make on of those lists of how many projects I have on the books and…well…it’s time to work on what I’ve got and use up the fabric stash…I’m sure you understand (except that new quilt for my brother-in-law that’s not officially begun but has made it to the list even though the pattern and fabric have not been chosen…just one of those things that must be done and darn it that will mean more approved fabric shopping…darn).

The block on the left is for one of my bee mates, I liked it so much I made the one on the right for my modern sampler

P1020168You know the sampler for the Modern Quilt Along….the one I started and mysteriously dropped out of when I had other more pressing projects. Well, I think that I might just make random blocks for it every now and then until it’s done. So far I have these

P1020173I love the color palette however limiting. I know the color in this picture is off, the orange is really more cheddery like the pic of the two blocks above.

Lastly, I made some mug rugs



These were actually just for free motion quilting and binding practice. There just so pretty I wanted to add them in :-)By the way I highly recommend mug rugs for skill practice, it has made all the difference in my quilting adventures of the latest quilt.

The best news is I just attached the front of the binding for my Snowman Quilt (I still need a name for it). All I need to do is hand stitch the back down and wash it and it will be ready for pictures!

I hope you’re having a great day 🙂

Posted in Bee Blocks, Finished!, hand made bags, modern Blocks Quilt A Long, Riley Blake Fabric Fest, snow man quilt, Uncategorized, zippered pouch | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sewtopia, Salt Lake City!

Sewtopia Logo jpegThis November from the 6th-9th I had the pleasure of going to Sewtopia in Salt Lake City with my mom!

Mom at the Airport…and this is how we felt waiting for the plane to take us from San Diego to Utah.

Room ViewHappily, we were upgraded to a room with a mountain view, that was a nice bonus.

Sewtopia Swag BagHere’s a look at what was in the swag bag. A crazy generous amount of happy sewing fun.

Cat Nap on it's way to judgingAs mentioned in the previous post, here I am on my way to take my challenge quilt to its temporary judging home.

My Cotton And Steel BlockHere is a less than fabulous picture of my Cotton and Steel selvage block that I made for the charity quilt that they put together during the weekend. That was my first experience with using selvages (although I have been saving them because I had a feeling I’d want to play in the future).

mom's selvage blockHere is my very cute mommy with her selvage block. That smart cookie took her extras and made a pouch that was so lovely! We, at the table, were totally inspired. I didn’t get a pic of hers but I did take a pic of one that someone else had brought from home.

selvage pouchI am so going to do this. I also loved her little handle on the side…again, so going to do that .

P1020158Here’s a peek at what the room looked like that we were in. Some people brought their own machines but most of us took advantage of the Bernina’s that were available to use. They even had personnel on hand to make sure we had a smooth time of it. Some of us…uh hum… had some difficulty with things like, threading the silly thing. Notice the white boards against the wall, those were, of course, design walls that were well used throughout the weekend. There were also Sweet 16, sit down, mid-arm machines in the back to use if you were at the quilting stage.

mom's design wall workHere’s what mom was playing with on one of the design walls.

Ali's Sewtopia Super ToteI spent virtually the entire weekend plus on this Super Tote, which I finished (yeahhh me!). I had all of the pieces cut and fused before I got there to save time but it still took the entire weekend to finish. I have to admit I did do some customization with the help of my compadres at other tables. There were some extremely accomplished bag makers in that room. I made some great new friends. I made the bag to take to QuiltCon for my show/exhibition hall day (so if you see me and my bag come say hi :-). I still have one more bag to make for the class days but that will come.

Salt Lake City Hotel ViewThere was also a shop hop that got us out and about a bit in Salt Lake but in the end it was hard to say goodbye to all the fun. Next year in Portland! Ya Hoooooooooo!






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My Fabric Challenge Quilt Journey

As you might remember I decided to enter the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge for the Sewtopia retreat in Salt Lake City. I decided to use the opportunity to test out my Electric Quilt Software and came up with this:

Cat nap EQ7 jpegI used some of the fabric I owned and used the challenge fabric for the medium stars.

The block comes from Angela Pingel‘s contribution to the Modern Blocks Book. The block is one small, one medium and one big wonky star. I took the block, duplicated it, imported the fabrics I wanted to use, twisted around the blocks until they had an appealing design and colored in the fabrics. It was fun. Then, of course, I had to make it.Basting Cat Nap

This is the basting, I’ll spare you the piecing madness

Below would be the quilty goodness, although painful.

Working on Cat Nap QuiltAmazingly, I was able to get it completed in the 1.5 – 2 months allotted. Very fast for me  considering my last quilt took about 6 months.

close-up of cat nap quiltingI tried to quilt with care note to take away from the design so I used matching grey thread and did a loopy star design as well as stitching around every single star. Unfortunately I think I quilted too densely as you really couldn’t see the quilting too well once it was washed and got all shrinky.

Center of Cat Nap QuiltI really love the middle with my mod cats peering out. notice they are all facing forward, remember these are wonky stars…that was a bear…ripping was done, large sighs were heard.

Finished Cat Nap QuiltAnd there she is! Notice the binding. My husband chose it and I think he was spot on I had my doubts but it turned out great. Thanks honey 🙂

Mommy with Cat Nap QuiltWhen we got to Sewtopia mom wanted to take it on a test run before I turned it in for judging. Yes, there was judging. No, when I embarked on this journey I did not know there would be judging. To me, judging implied that there would be losers and that made me sad but I really like my Celestial Cat Nap quilt so I thought, hey, maybe there is a chance it will be received favorably.

Cat Nap on it's way to judgingHere I am fuzzily taking Celestial Cat Nap to the registration table (no we had not started drinking yet, it’s just time for a new phone).

Cat Nap on the Judging Wall

And there she is …fuzzily once again, my apologies…on one side of the two sided judging wall. How did I fair? I’m sad to inform that I got no judging love. No mention, no prize, no participatory fat quarter…nada. I was surprisingly disappointed, I didn’t realize that I would be so deflated. I may not enter one of these things again, I think I might not be cut out for the competitive aspect. The good news is some people did tell me that mine was their favorite and that was nice. My sweet mother felt so bad for me she gave me the jelly roll she won in a drawing (that was a very cool Sewtopia treat, everyone’s name got pulled eventually for a drawing prize…mine was almost last to be called but that’s just the way my luck went that weekend, and I still got something nice so it’s okay). I told mom that we would make a quilt together with the jelly roll because I really didn’t want to take it from her and she wouldn’t take it back.

The good news is, after I show it off at my next guild meeting next month, it will go to a very good home. One of my book club members recently had a baby and I’m going to send it to her. She has no idea it’s coming. Hopefully the family will like it.

In the meantime I have many sweet memories and new friends from Sewtopia (perhaps a post about that is in order) and I’ve made a few more things I’ll share soon.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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