It’s Black And White – An Improv Bag

Hello! I hope you’re ‘having a wonderful Christmastime’! Things are good here, peaceful and very quiet. I realise that’s what I need more than anything else. Time to quieten the thoughts, find some serenity and lose myself in stitches. It’s been good for the soul. Time well spent.

On The Edge (Floating Squares) is all but finished. I’m quilting close to the edge now, fittingly, steadily filling in some gaps where the edge will meet the wall. I’m confident it’ll be ready to hang (hanging sleeve tutorial) by the start of the new year. And there it will be, in the centre of the wall like a beacon, a reminder of new beginnings.

Moving into a new home. Trying out a red and blue patchwork wall hanging on the wall above the farmhouse table. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Trying out On The Edge on the wall just after we moved home (hence all the detritus hanging around)

A Random Anecdote

Bear with me on this one… I had a blood test a week or so before Christmas due to a few minor infections in quick succession – my GP wants to make sure there’s no underlying cause. I’m still waiting for the results. Dr Bolton asked if I’d been feeling run down lately, I said no, but then remembered how stressed and anxious I’d been for the last four or five months and proceeded to give him the full unabridged details.

Eventually we discussed anaemia and I mentioned that my mother has a rare form of anaemia which has led to lots of blood transfusions and an intravenous drug called Rituximab. I tried to recall what the condition’s called and all I could think of was AHIQ! “Er, no, that’s not it, that’s a quilting thing”. He must have thought I was a complete idiot: she has a condition called AIHA (autoimmune haemolytic anaemia)!

Ahem, AHIQ!

It’s the last AHIQ link up of 2016 over at Ann and Kaja‘s this week, so maybe that’s why it was so prevalent in my mind. Or maybe it’s because I actually have some improv quilting to show you! I’ll save On The Edge for another day, today I thought I’d share a little improv Christmas gift I made.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All rights Reserved Graphic patchwork tote bag in black and white.

Ad hoc improv tote bag. The black and white and strong shapes reminded me of early 20c Russian art, and constructivism in particular – have a look at Liubov Popova’s fabric designs and drool!

I don’t think I’ve made anything in just black and white before so it was a good challenge. It was an unexpected way to focus on shape and rhythm and I highly recommend it as an improv exercise. I say unexpected, but of course it’s not when you think about it. You’re paring right back down to the essentials; it’s like drawing in a way.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All rights Reserved Graphic patchwork tote bag in black and white.

A simpler reverse side. It’s like a loose version of piano keys.

Check out my tutorial on monochrome colour schemes if you’re interested in experimenting with a limited colour palette too. The exercises show you how to experiment with one colour plus black, white and neutral grey. Maybe you could make your samples into a tote bag?

And One For Me!

I was really pleased with the way the bag turned out and plan to make one for myself next. I seem to do a small fresh-food shop every other day or so, now that I’m living in town, and it’ll be more than useful.

A proper shopping bag feels like shopping ‘back in the day’. I remember my mum used to struggle with bags and bags of shopping and one of those trollies on wheels that you pull behind you (they seem to be making a comeback lately, and not just with the oap’s!). I reckon the struggle was her own fault for having to cater for a family of 6, but she’d rope us in as packhorses anyway. It’s memories like this that make me feel my age – even the little things have changed significantly since my childhood. And it all happened so imperceptibly. I quite like the idea of going back in time a bit (not too far though), carrying my homemade tote bag, French loaf sticking out, fresh fruit and veg nestled inside.

What were your shopping days like ‘back in the day’, was it very different in the US I wonder? We could create a shopping revolution with our handmade improv tote bags – are you going to give it a go?

I’m linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ and Lorna for Let’s Bee Social, pop over and say hi.

Happy stitching

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

28 replies
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Karen, we’re slowly getting there and look forward to doing some more sorting and organising once the festive season has gone by. The house has a lovely feel to it, but it does need some freshening up and repairs. It’ll be something to look forward to for sure. Hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and wish you good things for the new year. x

      Reply
  1. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    I hope you hear soon re your blood tests Stephie. I love your bag!! Yes, memories of the good old days before these awful plastic bags came out, back to good old brown paper bags and cloth bags, just like yours, for our shopping. I also remember buying sweets at our local grocer/baker shop, these could be weighed out and were placed in either a while triangular shaped bag, or a small white square one.
    So much nicer than the pre-packaged stuff. Oh dear, perhaps I’m showing my age and becoming a grump!!

    Reply
      • Stephie
        Stephie says:

        Pear drops, barley twists, gob-stoppers, lemon bonbons, liquorish laces, blackjacks… ooh now you’re talking! (Sweet tooth, me? Never!) Funnily enough we have a little shop here that sells sweets from jars (but guess what, they’re plastic). The shop’s got a great name: Pennyworths! It doesn’t have the feel of an old-fashioned sweetshop though, it’s a bit too neat and tidy 😀

        Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Got the results yesterday Maureen and all’s fine 🙂 I’ve just been run down after all the stress as I suspected, but it’s good to know there’s no underlying issue.

      Do you remember when chocolate bars used to come in paper wrappers too? I was really confused and disappointed when they changed to plastic. It’s funny what little changes make us grumpy – and there’s nothing wrong with being a grump, ha! Have a wonderful Christmastime Maureen and I look forward to seeing plenty of your colourful creations in 2017 🙂 x

      Reply
  2. Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow
    Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow says:

    Every time you show a photo of your new place I love it more and more. I hope all will be well via the blood tests / you did have an incredible amount of stress in the last few months. That bag is amazing! Love it! 🙂

    I just remember having paper bags for the longest time then plastic ( never made any 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      It’s funny Deb, I always think of paper grocery bags being specifically an American thing. When I was young I always used to wonder how the bottom didn’t fall out of them, or what happened when it rained. I recollect we had ‘string bags’ rather than paper – and they always had stuff coming out of the holes. The UK govt introduced a compulsory charge for plastic bags recently so hopefully the ubiquitous supermarket ones will eventually disappear. There are definitely a lot more tote bags around these days.

      We’re beginning to settle into the new place and make it feel our own – hopefully it’ll be clean and tidy enough to show some more pictures this year. I always love having a nose around yours! Happy new year Deb 🙂 x

      Reply
  3. Paula Budinger
    Paula Budinger says:

    Now cloth bags are in all the stores, really going green. One disadvantage of pre-plastic days was a stinky 30-mile ride home with my father,s beloved Limburger cheese in a paper bag. Plastic has its place, I guess.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      It does feel better that the world’s waking up to the issues of plastic polluting the oceans and everywhere else, but I can’t imagine anyone would enjoy a 30 mile ride with a bag of stinky cheese, haha! Hopefully you didn’t live somewhere that was too hot! Thanks for coming by and saying hi Paula, hope to chat again in 2017. Happy new year to you 🙂

      Reply
  4. Abigail @cut&alter
    Abigail @cut&alter says:

    The bag is wonderful. Improv is definitely on my list for 2017 and I had planned a black and white this year but it didn’t work very well!! I would love to have more individual food shops to buy from and especially a greengrocers – can you believe no greengrocers in Stratford at all 🙁 Enjoy your peaceful time and all the best for 2017!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Truro has two ‘proper’ greengrocers (i.e. they don’t sell much else), there’s one in a covered market and a little shop too. Can’t recall any high street butchers or fishmongers though (I’m vegetarian so probably wouldn’t have registered if there was). There’s a little food market every week or so too which has some good deli stuff, but I can’t always afford that kind of shop, more’s the pity. It’s a really sad state of affairs I think. Best wishes for 2017 to you too – it has to be better than 2016! x

      Reply
  5. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    I really like your improv bag, despite the lack of colour. The design of your bag stops it looking drab: I’m surprised by how bright the monochrome design looks. I’m beginning to think you might be quite good at this designing lark! Ha ha ha!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I’ll take whatever compliment I can from you Dina, so thank you!!! It was worth playing around with I think so I might have another go sometime. Hope you’ve had a good Christmas my lovely and best wishes for a much happier 2017 x

      Reply
      • Bossymamma
        Bossymamma says:

        Ha ha ha, whatever can you mean? 🙂 I had a really lovely Christmas, thank you and thank you for the New Year wishes. After the events of the past three years, I could do with having a very uneventful year, as I’m sure you could. All the best to you and Kim for 2017, Stephie. Love the new look on here, by the way, it really is great.

        Reply
  6. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    This sort of bag is perfect for shopping, and you are not carrying advertising for some blooming supermarket, though that’s the only place I’d find baguettes round here! I hope you manage a few more restful days and continue to feel better as you shake off some of the stress of the last few months.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Exactly Kaja. Free advertising for some faceless multinational company isn’t really my bag … good god did I really just put that in black and white *cringe!*. We have so many bakers round here, but I suspect that’s got more to do with the local pasty eating population. I’ve been getting in so much sleep lately I’m probably going into hibernation. Hopefully by the time the new term starts next week I’ll have woken up enough to cope with the early mornings! x

      Reply
  7. Lynne Nicholson
    Lynne Nicholson says:

    Hi my lovely. Hoping your blood tests give a simple to treat result. Mine seem to bring me another problem each time. My immune system attacks my platelets and I may be facing another operation this time they are discussing removing my spleen as that is where the destruction takes place. Combine that with my progressive loss of sight due to my immune system taking a dislike to my eyes and 2017 looks like it is going to be a challenging year!! Well I’m always up for a challenge!! Bring it on.
    As for your bag I adore it. I have some black and white with a touch of purple jelly rolls I just found in my stash and wasn’t sure what I would do would do with them I think at least one bag may be on the cards.
    Strangely I can’t remember what I carried the shopping home in when mum sent me out must have had some simple shopping bags I know I always was envious of a tv character who did her shopping in a wicker basket. My nan had one and I remember carrying it for her when I stayed one summer. It got quite heavy and wasn’t very comfortable to carry but I just loved how it looked.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Happy new year Lynne 🙂 My mum’s immune system attacks her red blood cells so I understand how frustrating and consuming it must be. Regular trips to the hospital, blood tests, transfusions…I hope you can avoid the operation. You seem to overcome your sight problems very creatively though, so I’m sure you’ll take the bull by the horns whatever 2017 brings.

      Oh those wicker baskets were gorgeous! I was walking through some woods before Christmas and saw a lady using one for collecting holly. They’d be good for mushroom foraging too – anything that’s not too heavy I think. I’ve got a good selection of baskets, but not one for shopping, I may have to remedy that!

      Reply
  8. Monica
    Monica says:

    Omigosh, Stephie, that bag is gorgeous! Now I want to try some b&w piecing too! I hope it was well appreciated.

    I loved your anecdote, I think it’s a clear sign of a healthy quilt obsession! Good luck with your results. 😀

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Aw thanks Monica. I’m sure the doctor thought I was mad, he gave me plenty of dubious looks! The worse thing is he probably knew exactly what I was trying to say and just let me embarrass myself!!!

      I think the bag went down well. It was for my nephew who’s into everything black and white. I made a bag for my niece and asked my sister what she thought my nephew would like and she said to make him a bag too. I was a bit surprised to say the least – my son wouldn’t go out with something I’d made! (They’re the same age.) My nephew wants to be a fashion photographer so perhaps he’ll use it for his sketchbooks and camera.

      Have a great new year Monica 🙂

      Reply
  9. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    I am 65 my mother drove her car to the supermarket where she bought all our groceries packed at the store into brown paper bags then into the car using the grocery store wheeled cart.
    My grandparents lived on a ranch they raised a steer every year and had it butchered they also raised rabbits for food, chickens for eggs and meat, they always had a vegetable garden and their cash crop was walnuts and prunes.
    My grandmother always wore an apron and often used her apron to hold items to bring in to the house such as corn or carrots

    California USA

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      What lovely memories Colleen. My dad didn’t raise rabbits, but he was pretty good at ferreting! There were always a couple hanging in the shed and he grew some veg at the end of the garden – nothing I’d eat though (a very fussy child – and still am!). I grew up in London so I didn’t see many chickens, but my school friend’s family ran a dairy farm. I remember that whenever I stayed over we had fresh unpasteurised milk in a big jug on the kitchen table – tasted like nectar! Certainly wouldn’t get that these days. I think I need to make me an apron now… happy new year Colleen!

      Reply
  10. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I remember the shopping “trollies” very well. My mom and dad never owned a car in their lives and we would tote our groceries often in them. Somehow your post had me remember what it was like to find a dime (maybe your 10 pence?) on the sidewalk and running to the corner store to get a big assortment of penny candy in a wee paper sack. BTW, Santa has brought me the Improv book you had recommended….I’m looking forward to starting a new path in my quilting journey!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I haven’t had a car for a couple of years now Sandra and when I mention it people look at me as if I come from another planet, haha! It certainly makes life interesting at times. I got used to using home deliveries for a large monthly supermarket shop, but now we’ve moved I just drag Kim with me and make him carry the heavy stuff – what goes around comes around! And the sweet shops, where you could by marbles and jacks too – did you play those kind of games on the street with your friends? So glad Santa brought you such a wonderful book, you must have been good this year!!! Hope you’ll have lots of fun experimenting 🙂 x

      Reply
  11. Janie
    Janie says:

    Gorgeous bag! And I looked at Popova’s designs, yes!
    I’ve struggled with anemia at times in my life, I know what that feels like.
    Best wishes to you.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Popova’s work is amazing isn’t it? So glad you had a look. I think I just need some rest rather than have a troublesome condition – I hope you’re well, anaemia can be so debilitating. Happy New Year, Janie and take good care x

      Reply
  12. Sue
    Sue says:

    The bag is stunning…and useful. I’ve been making totes also, and they seem to be an item other people actually want to buy! Here where I live, we have banned plastic shopping bags at grocery stores entirely, so one either brings one’s own re-usable bag, or has to pay a nickel a piece for paper bags. It has created a new market in re-useable bags! I hope your tests come soon and to your satisfaction. Your new house looks very bright and cozy. Happy New Year!

    Reply

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