Fat Quarter Kitten Toy Bags

If you have any contact with your local shelters or rescues, you must know that kitten season is upon us.  One of the big challenges of having so many litters coming through is stopping the sharing of illness before symptoms show up.    One of the ways to do this is to have dedicated bedding, bowls, boxes and toys for each litter.  With enclosures, the first three are relatively simple.  Keeping the same toys with the same litter is a bit more challenging.  Another rescue suggested toy bags so that each litter’s toys can be kept with them.  The one my son and I volunteer with on the weekends reached out to their volunteer community for help in possibly making these bags.

Last weekend I worked up two dozen bags in addition to the six I made the week before.  The pattern and instructions below were written up as a quick method of creating these for shelters, rescues and their fosters.  The information is free to share and reproduce for non-profit purposes only.   For ease of printing, a link to a PDF file is included at the bottom of this post.  Happy Stitching.

Supplies & Notions:

  • Fat Quarter in fabric of choice
  • Twine for drawstrings
  • Large eyed blunt needle (Eye should be large enough to accommodate the drawstring material.)
  • Thread (coordinating or contrasting)
  • Sharps if sewing by hand

Directions:

  • One fat quarter will make two Kitten Toy bags approximately 8” x 10.5”.
  • Do not prewash the fat quarter.  Iron as needed.
  • Cut in half on the 18” side (see Figure A).  This will result in a 9” x 22” piece (see Figure B).
  • Using as small a hem as you are comfortable sewing,  one long side and at least one inch down each short side from the hemmed long side noted by blue lines on Figure C.  I used a rolled hem foot on my machine and simply hemmed the three sides.
    • Note: While hemming is not strictly necessary, considering that these are expected to be laundered in a sanitizing manner, I recommend it.  This is to increase durability and will also reduce the strings that result from washing.
  • Fold over the long side a half inch and sew in place the length of it.  This will create the casing for the drawstring.
  • Fold in half with right sides together. Sew along raw edge of long side and up the short side stopping at the very beginning of the casing. See Figure D.
  • Turn right side out.  Cut a length of twine 28” long.  Knot one end.  Thread the large eyed needle with the other end and thread it through the entire casing.  Remove the needle from the twine and knot that end.

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Additional information:

  • The pattern can be altered if the fat quarter is not the typical 18×22.
  • A half yard will net 4 toy bags.
  • Smaller cuts can be utilized for smaller bags.
  • Yarn, ribbon or shoes laces can be substituted for twine.

© 2019 AblyAnnie (Pam Willars) All Rights Reserved
This pattern may only be reproduced for non-profit purposes.  You may use it to create toy bags for your own use or for donation purposes only.  Neither the pattern itself nor the resulting products may be sold.

Link to Free Pattern Fat Quarter Kitten Toy Bags

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English Paper Piecing & Templates

I like small, portable handwork.  It’s something I can take with me or just a bit to get my hands busy while I’m watching TV or a movie.  I have a couple crewel pieces that I’ve actually finished and  few more in various sates of completeness, but even that was needing a bit too much attention.  In every issue of Today’s Quilter there was a few pages on English Paper Piecing (EPP).  I didn’t really know anything about it so kind of skimmed until a few months ago when it had a hexie pattern in it.  (Once I tried the other kind of paper piecing and really didn’t like it.  That’s a story for another day.)

I love the hexie shape.  There is just something about it that speaks to me.  So I actually read the article that time and a light bulb went on.  Oh!  I didn’t start on anything right away.  Still too much RL chaos, but I did order some hexie templates.  Those came in and went up on the peg board as I ruminated over what fabric I might like to use.  I have a set of bee and honeycomb themed fabric I was considering, but it never quite got there.

One day in late March I was rifling through my scrap fabric and came across the pieces left from my Candy Pop quilt.  Just the thought of the bright mostly geometric prints in small hexagon shapes gave me a thrill.  Fortunately for my, IT had to remote in and work on my computer.  So while I waited, I started experimenting with the templates and the fabric.  I would snip of piece of a scrap just large enough to turn under the 1/4″ seam allowance for a 1″ (length of one side) hexie and baste it into place.  Since then I’ve been randomly making these hexies.  I haven’t joined any of them yet as no one single idea has made itself The One but I am having fun.

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I probably have about 50 hexies done of the 100 templates.  In looking at my stack of scraps that I’ve also supplemented with a fat quarter here and there, I knew I didn’t have have enough.  The idea of cutting more by hand was beyond unappealing, and I had not yet stirred myself to ordering more.  Then I remembered the Cricut.  Pulling up the design space and reading through the how to sections as a refresher resulted in a sheet of 1″ hexies to cut.

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I pulled the machine out this morning and looked at what I had: a couple of blades and three different cutting mats.  All I needed was lightweight 12×12 cardstock.   A trip out to the store solved that.  Of course, it had been long enough since I last used the Cricut that I had to review the instructions on how to use it.  It took a little bit to get it all set up and connected (I had not previously used it with this computer) but we had success.  I have an additional 30 templates from the test run.

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The top center is one of the purchased templates.  The bottom left is one of the cut templates.

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I am well pleased with how it worked.  Next step is to redo the project so the nearly the whole sheet is used to see how many templates that nets me.

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2019??

Though I have been managing to write the date correctly since the year turned, it still seems surprising that it is already 2019, and tomorrow is the beginning of the 2nd quarter at that.  I’m old enough to remember when we were sure all tech was going to come to a grinding halt on January 1, 2000.  That’s twenty years in the past now.  Yup, I’m old.

Munchkin’s last hospital stay was in October.  That seems to have done the trick as his follow up visits are fewer and farther between.  He is still under long term observation to be on the safe side, but he’s back to being a happy spaz of kid.  He’s managed to catch up with his school work despite missing a month plus and is keeping up.  All good things since middle school is on the horizon.  His principal, teachers and case managers all assure me he will be fine.  He might be, but I won’t.  My baby (he hates when I call him that) is getting too big, too fast.

My day job has been keeping me busy.  A work colleague and dear friend is dying.  He and his wife have returned to her home state so that she will have her support system nearby when he passes.

The creative efforts have been minimal.  Part of that was due to a massive reorganization effort of the studio that is not quite there yet.  It is done enough to allow me to do some minor things.

A local thrift shop had a donation from someone who used to do a lot of fashion and costuming sewing.  Guess who scored a ton of amazing fabrics??  Silks, satins, brocades, velvets.  Yards and yards of them.  One was even one of those industrial size bolts of an embellished dark wine silk.  So many, ideas and thoughts and plans.

And a shout out to those magazines that give me even more ideas:

  • American Patchwork & Quilting (US Publication)
  • Threads (US Publication)
  • Today’s Quilter (UK Publication)

There’s more to share but it will wait for another time as we need to answer the call for sleep.  To tide you over, here are some random photos.

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The Worst Summer Ever

Post title is courtesy of my munchkin who really has had the worst summer ever.  We got through summer school without any  problem during June.  Then July arrived, and the start of medical issues that are still ongoing.

It has been trying and exhausting for both of us with two hospital stays and many clinic visits.  He is under excellent care however we still do not have answers regarding cause and continue to treat the symptoms.

His biggest disappointment was the cancelling of the trip to Legoland.  Honestly, I was very much also looking forward to it.  Instead we spent a that time at the hospital and clinic.

Mom came up the Saturday after the first hospital stay and has been here since.  I have desperately needed the extra support.  We are not sure when she will be leaving, and dad has called her more in the time she’s been here than in my entire life.

The closest we have gotten to crafting, artwork or stitching is looking at magazines and carrying around a sketch book and pens and pencils.  We’ve barely managed to keep the food bearing plants watered.  Fortunately we live in a high humidity area where nightly mists / fog / rain is common.  The summer vegetables have not done well, but the tomatoes carry on at least.

It will likely be some time before any more posts happen as my focus has understandably been elsewhere.

 

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Dragon Fruit progress pic 13

Finally stacked and ready for quiting. I am hand quilting this one with a variegated no. 16 Finca perle cotton from Presencia.

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Kitchen Kraft

Finally got around to mixing up enough pancake mix to fill the 6 cup mason jar after using the last of it a couple weeks ago. The starter recipe is from an old Joy of Cooking cookbook which I have altered to my own taste. It has also spoiled my son for pancakes at restaurants. They just do not taste like mama’s. 😁

There is also a small stack cooked up that will go in the refrigerator so we can simply warm them up in the mornings.

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Outdoors craftiness

We have had pleasant afternoons and weekends recently despite wandering into the middle of June.  That’s rare here as fog is the norm, sometimes incredibly thick fog.  Summer time in this locale is not at all like So Cal or even inland from here.  Last July 4th while many folks were posting their barbecue and beach pictures, I had a roaring fire going to ward off the chill.  Considering we have typically mild winters and temps do not have huge fluctuations, I can live with it  In fact, I have acclimated enough that above 70 degrees seems hot and worthy of air conditioning.

All this lovely weather has tempted me to the out of doors, not terribly difficult as long as I remember to take allergy meds.

What has occupied my time the last few weekends has been upcycling reclaimed wood.

The first effort was the raised garden bed.  The bed in and of itself was accomplished fairly quickly.  It was the filling and planting that took most of the time.  I had a celery that grew large and tall and self seeded in several other pots.  There were also a couple of half whiskey barrels in need of emptying and refilling and a few other pots with weeds and edibles needing to be separated.  There is still some to be done, but I do have enough potting soil left.  If all survive and thrive I will have purple potatoes, red potatoes, shallots, celery, tomatoes, green and red leaf lettuce, green onions, thyme, zucchini, cucumber, okra, yellow squash, corn, radishes, carrots, romaine lettuce, bok choi, watermelon, pumpkin and cantaloupe.

I also have a small kitchen window garden with four basil plants, mint and a tea rose.

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And this morning the first project I had thought of for the reclaimed wood got done. I now have a firewood rack.

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There is still much more to do but I feel like quite a bit has been accomplished!  This last photo shows two more projects.  The bench on the left desperately needs a new cushion.  That’s the bottom of it.  The stool on the right needs the top completely replaced.

Also, all these wood projects meant I was able to play with my  a new to me power tool – a Craftsman circular saw.

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Leonardo Da Vinci and The Sewing Stash

Part of this last school year’s projects was the Famous Person Project.  It started with a conversation with his Language Arts teacher followed by a list of people he, with help from his teacher, had picked.  Then we (he and I) narrowed it down to three.  And at school it became one.

Over the course of the project they researched their person, made a presentation and a few other things.  The very last part was the Famous Person Wax Museum, an at school event where the students dressed as the subject of their project and did a short speech.

As the title clearly hints at, my boy picked Leonardo Da Vinci.  Costume-wise he really doesn’t realize what he is asking for.  My mind begins spinning.  First, first I need a pattern.  There was a time when I was a regular at Ren Faires, so maybe I have something in the box of costume patterns.  I go digging through that and find something that is perfect, an old Butterick Ren pattern.  Wonderful, now I just need fabrics and trim.  I read through to see how much is needed and considered my totes of fabric, and secondarily my bolts of fabric, then boxes of trim..

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Fabric totes – there’s another stack or two behind this one…

I recall some not plain fabric I’ve picked up in the last year or so from thrift shops and pull that out, looking at how much yardage there is.  I have munchkin come in and we talk about it since I know if he isn’t on board whatever gets made won’t be worn.  As particular about clothing, even costumes, as I am, I totally get it.  We go through the same process with the trim, this one found at the annual Quilt Shows back room garage sale where they sell fabric at $0.50 per pound.  I pull together coordinating threads and the bolt of lining fabric for just that and put all this stuff in a project box so I have it all together.

Now that it is organized I can address the pattern itself.  As I’ve gotten to the point over the years that I really don’t like cutting the originals, I pulled out my roll of transfer paper and set to do that.  I call him in and take his measurements to see which of the sizes is closest for him.

As I’m unfolding the pattern sheets and looking for the pieces required, I come to the realization that this packet only contains the adult size patterns.  Oh boy.  I do a little bit of research to see if the child size is out there somewhere for purchase.  I do find one copy for about $30 plus shipping.  Then I think to look at the copyright date.  1998.  Oh, that’s why.  I also consider the calendar.  It is a Thursday afternoon and he needs the costume the following Thursday.  Yeah, even if I were willing to spend the money on the pattern – I’m not – it wouldn’t arrive in time for any progress to be made.

So I transfer the smallest size adult pieces to my transfer paper, taping pieces together where necessary.  It is the top part of the doublet that needs the most adjustment.  The bottom part, which is from the waist down, can be left at the original length.  He stands there while I fold and tape into the right size, both front and back.  The transfer and adjustment took most of the rest of Thursday evening.  Then I started cutting the fabric out.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday were sewing days, using a little workhorse of a vintage Singer, the 185J made in Canada.

Singer 185J

Singer 185J

Friday, after work, I begin sewing, and I go until I’m too tired to see straight and have to frog some seams.

As I’m getting the pieces assembled and considering them, I’m realizing the lining will absolutely be necessary.  Since the fabric is essentially home decor fabric, I can, at least, skip dealing with interfacing.  Stitching continues on Saturday.  The lining is more challenging to cut and sew being what it is, but I get through quite a bit of that even with the afternoon work stoppage for our shift of kitty care at the local animal adoption center as well as fittings as pieces were put together.  I am able to move on to the hand stitching of the trim.  When my fingers tire I get the hat prepped.  A quick basting stitch lets me pull the edges into gathers.  I pin the trim into place and pick the feathers I want to use.  Those get bundled and glue applied to the shafts to set them.

Sunday I continue on the trim and finish off the hat.  I get him to try it on but he won’t leave it on long enough for a photo.  Stinker.

Thursday arrives and off to school we go.  He is so excited about his costume he puts it on early to show his teachers.  I am able to stay through the Wax Museum event but then must head to work and conference calls and what not.

I’m super pleased with how it all turned out, and apparently he really likes the hat as he was still wearing it when I picked him up from school that afternoon.

And for the second part of the post title – The Sewing Stash – I did not need to buy a single thing for this project.  Everything was pulled from my stash.  I sometimes see posts around social media from people who say they only buy fabric when they have a project to work on.  I work on things the other way around.  I get the fabric and accessories first and see what ideas bloom, or in this case, what need arises.  As noted earlier, the outer fabric and trim were bought at thrift shops/ garage sales.  The bolt of lining fabric I got for free several years ago with a few other bolts via a Freecycle post.  The feathers were from an old craft project.  And I have many needles and lots of thread.

I’m not sure when or if he will ever wear this again, but once he grows out of it, I plan on donating to a local children’s theatre.

The images below show the project process.

 

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Growing *The Choir

A little over a month ago, there was a post on one of my buy/sell FB groups for a Singer treadle from he early 1900s.  Although I did inquire about it at the time, the funds and the logistics just were not aligning, so I resigned myself to admiring from afar.  Last week I received a notification that the price had been reduced considerably.  Funding was aligned, and with some planning, so was logistics.

Wednesday afternoon, after school pick up, I collected my husband then an open Uhaul trailer and out to Salinas we went.  WE had to wait a bit as the seller had to make a quick run out, but, oh it was so worth the wait.

Now, sitting, in my living room is a well loved, well maintained Singer Model 66 treadle with Red Eye decals in a #21 Drawing Room Cabinet.  She’s just gorgeous!  All the parts turn smoothly, there were extra bobbins and needles in the drawer, and the manual was quickly downloaded from the ISMACS site.

I’m hoping to do some test stitching in the next few days.

Along with this beauty, there was an antique ice box. I need to do some more research on it, but it appears to also be early 1900s.  I plan to use it to store machine accessories and notions once I get it cleaned up and situated properly.  Of course, that probably won’t be until after the turtles get transported to their new home.

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Mom’s Visit, A Quilt Show and A Wedding

 

Mom came up for her annual visit early in the month and stayed for a whole week this time, Sunday to Sunday.  We did some shopping and pampering of her (chiropractic visit, massage at the spa, hair cut, pedicure).  By then it was only Tuesday!

Then we did an in-house shopping day – she went fabric shopping in my stash.  At some point in the last year I had picked up a fat quarter pack that just had mom written all over it.    Pinks, yellows, and greens with floral motifs are her thing.  She wanted to make a quilt like one of the ones I have of two-inch strips.  It would need a border, backing and binding, perhaps sashing.    I knew I had the perfect fabric for both backing and border.  Pulled those out and there was certainly enough of both.  I didn’t think I had the right green for the binding then realized I did.  It had been one of the options for the Candy Pop quilt.  Over Wednesday and Thursday, there was plotting, planning, cutting and sewing.  She loves using my old Featherweight.  It does make the most beautiful straight stitch.

Friday was the start of MPQG’s annual Quilt Show.  So many beautiful quilts and creativity.  Some of my favorites are pictured here in the slide show.

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We also visited their “Garage Sale” room in the back where the fabric is sold by weight at $0.25 per pound. “Danger, Will Robinson!”

Saturday is a kitty care day for Leo and I at AFRP. Mom came down with us for our two hour shift to play with the kitties. As the town’s Good Ole Days festival was in full swing, we left early in attempt to fin parking. Luck was with us that day, and a spot opened very near to where we needed to be. Between playing and loving on the kitties, mom visited the rescue’s supporting thrift shop next door and found some goodies. I went by to check on her and talk with Deb there. On my way out, I told Deb that if the Necci was still there the next day, I would take it home.

With new fabric and seeing all those quilts, mom was determined to get hers done. She kept going into the wee hours but finally had to call it a night. The only thing left was the binding. I handed her the thread and folded up the nearly done quilt then tucked it into a pillowcase to keep it clean. She packed it to take it home to finish.

We got her to the airport the next day despite crazy traffic, especially for a Sunday and got back in time to spend an hour at Good Ole Days before it closed until next year. Leo ran into a friend and they went on some ides together. Then we were both wiped out.

Oh, and the Necci was still there and did come home with me.

I have only been able to see if the motor ran, but have not spent any more time than that. The whirlwind was not yet over. Work kept me bsy the next four days on top of needing to pack. We were driving down to LA on Friday as my daughter was getting married on Saturday. Necessary work things were done Friday morning, then we all loaded into the car and headed south. My timing was awful as we hit rush hour traffic in Santa Barbara, Venture and Thousand Oaks/ Agoura. We grabbed dinner at Tommy’s and headed up to the folks. Unpacking the fancy clothes revealed a missing shirt that required a last minute dash to the mall before the shops closed. Saturday was the wedding and reception.

Welcome to the family, Jon. You’re in trouble now!

The following week saw another business trip and physical evidence of over doing plus allergies. But I’ve recovered mostly and hoping things slow down just a little. The most creative I’ve been able to manage is coloring in a coloring book.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Mom did finish the quilt! On Friday before we arrived! I think it turned out lovely!

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