I’m officially a bag lady

Yes, it’s a thing.  Bag Lady has a whole new meaning since Sara Lawson began drawing so many people into the art of bag making and inspiring the use of this nickname!  Check her out on Youtube, Facebook, and on her web site, all by the same name “Sew Sweetness”.

Things have been happening in my sewing room even though you haven’t heard from me in a while!  To be honest, I’ve been working on a lot of techie stuff for my online shop and trying to learn (UGH!) about things like SEO (search engine optimization) keywords, marketing etc. and my brain hurts.  It is kind of disheartening for a maker to have to keep up with all these things, but that is the online world and my shop is online so….

In between webinars and headaches, I’ve been getting ready for our local Christmas craft market.  This year I’m going to be displaying more than just quilts; I’m having fun putting together some smaller items for my table, like pouches and tote bags, so I can offer a variety of options and leave some of my bigger quilts at home.  It takes a lot of time and energy to pack up all my quilts and safely transport them back and forth and because we live in a small town and most people know where to find me, I’m taking a different approach to make my own life easier and to keep them guessing LOL

I’ve enjoyed making a bag here and there in the past and pouches are often a good small project in between bigger quilting ones, but I’ve really been on a bag kick the past month or so and I thought I’d update you.  Of course these are just quick glimpses because I’m not revealing all the details too early, but at least you can see what I’ve been up to!

(the 3rd pouch down is a Sew Sweetness pattern)

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The tote bag extravaganza began when a friend asked me about a custom order for totes she wants for gifts.  I sewed up a prototype and then caught the bug.  I’m using a pattern from my own head and skills I’ve learned along the way from other patterns, and using up lots of smaller pieces of fabric I have leftover from quilts (OK I’ll admit I have bought a few pieces just for the bags!)  and while several of them are similar in size and style, the prints make them unique.

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Then I decided to try some faux leather because I thought it would make a lovely bag if I quilted a cool design on it, and got myself hooked on that look!

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Most recently, I put together a quilt sandwich to sample some batting for a silk whole cloth quilt I’m starting and once it was all stitched and looking beautiful – batting test passed! – I decided to turn it into a silk handbag.  Ooh-lah-lah!

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So there you have it.  At the time of this post, some have already been sold, but there are more in the making.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been experimenting with having some of my own designs printed on fabric.  The first samples arrived and everything looked just fine, so I’m pretty excited about that!  The two panels have been made into wall quilts that I can’t quite share yet, but stay tuned…

 

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Faux Leather Pouches

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I recently ordered some faux leather fabric from Sew Sweetness and got around to doing a quilting test this week.  I LOVE this stuff!  I had no issues at all free motion quilting on this fabric and the results are stunning.  I started out with a big square, quilted the heck out of it and cut it up to make two zippered pouches.  Serious fun, people.

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Are you seeing the possibilities?  Head on over to Sara’s website.  She’s a self proclaimed Bag Lady!  She designs great patterns for handmade bags & pouches, has video tutorials, and offers many items in her online shop.  She’s even got cork fabric over there…hmmm…what to try next?

The video below is sped up a lot but shows how easily I’m moving around on this surface – no issues at all.

Floral Train Case

I’ve got my new Handi Quilter long arm machine set up and running now with lots of practice going on while I get a feel for it.  The one thing I’m learning quickly is that I need to take breaks from standing, so an alternate sewing project was called for by the end of the week!

I saw one of Sara Lawson’s Crimson & Clover train cases done in a lovely floral fabric and while I couldn’t find the exact print I was attracted to in her photo, I did find one I liked well enough to go ahead with the project.  I’ve made the small and medium versions in the past so decided to do a large one this time.

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As with any sewing project that involves some tedious work in certain areas, the larger version was easier to maneuver at the sewing machine, but it does require some extra stabilizer in the top and bottom to help keep its shape.  I used a 4.5 handbag zipper – these have become my favourite for bag making – and changed out the pulls to make it more decorative.

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Stay tuned for a post about my first quilt done on the long arm.  It’s being laundered today 🙂

Custom Book Bag

 

IMG_1787I was going to include this bag at the bottom of yesterday’s quilting post, and then I thought “save it for tomorrow so you’ll have an extra one ready to go.”  This way y’all get two posts in two days!  You’re welcome.

I wanted a book bag for myself – in a bit of a hurry because I was getting ready for a weekend road trip – and I didn’t want a big tote bag.  I love using the Soft & Stable from Byannie.com, and I wanted it to be sturdy but on the smallish side.  So I mulled over a few ideas, getting a little discouraged because I didn’t really want to spend time designing a whole new bag and then figuring out what size, how much fabric I needed etc.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for that, but not this time!

Then I looked up to the top of my shelf where I store the finished bags that are for sale in my Etsy shop, and I wondered how the largest of the Open Wide bags (pattern from Byannie.com) would suit my books.  It turned out to be just the right size for what I wanted, but I needed handles to carry books around.

Here’s a picture of the bags made according to the pattern:

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It didn’t take long to see that I could simply add a handle which could be secured underneath the already called for contrasting border strip on the front and then add a similar border strip on the back side for the other handle. I was able to use a pattern I already had – and have made several times so it’s kind of a no brainer now! – with measurements already calculated and just get to work.

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I love how it turned out; I’ve already used it a few times and it’s working really well for me.  So I wanted to share it here to give you an idea but also to remind you that sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get something new; you might have just the right pattern sitting there and all it needs is an add-on to turn it into just what you need 🙂

Keeping in Touch!

Hello everyone.  Yes, I am still here!  There has been some craaaaazzzzzy heat in my area the past while and when that happens my brain fries so I’m not able to do a lot of work on any kind of project.  I kind of just sit still in as little clothing as possible and try not to melt.  Don’t picture it …

But I just noticed that I haven’t posted my most recently finished projects, one of which is actually a new quilt! Yay! I was able to bind it on a very infrequent cool evening and I just love how it turned out because it is so soft I just want to keep squishing it.

First, here are a couple of smaller items I worked on in the mornings before the scorching started …

This is the medium size train case (Crimson & Clover pattern by Sara Lawson at sewsweetness.com) done in a vintage looking clock print with some music on the inside.  I added a second pull to the zipper and what a different that makes not only to the appearance of it, but also to the function!

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This size was definitely easier to do than the smallest one I made a while back (in red), like the difference between sewing barbie doll clothing and adult clothing! haha

I also got some couching done on a pillow cover, and used some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine to add some quilting pizazz in bright colors for a funky look.  I used a couching foot for my Pfaff QE 4.2 to do the wavy lines of yarn and then switched to the free motion couching foot for the lettering.  I could have done it all with the free motion couching foot, but I am still getting used to it, so I wanted to save that for a small area that I could easily fix if need be 🙂

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And here is my newest quilt, pieced with soft vintage looking floral prints, bordered and backed with the Quilter’s Muslin I mentioned in a previous post.  I used a finer thread on this quilt – So Fine from Superior Threads – because I’m trying to work into using that for certain projects where I just want texture that blends in more than a heavier thread that stands out.  I’m hoping to get it to work consistently for me as many quilters and teachers love it and while I have a few kinks to work out, I’m getting advice from the experts so I’m trying to stay positive that it will indeed become a good option.

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Doesn’t that just look so cuddly?  And it feels like a quilt you just got from grandma, soft and loved.  I think the lighter weight thread does play a part in that.

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That’s all for now, hope you are all enjoying whatever you like to do in the summer.  I’ll be inside with the blinds pulled, sipping ice water and trying to figure out where my next meal is going to come from.  They say “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and because even boiling something on the stove raises the room temp, I’m taking that rather literally!  FYI: there’s no shame in eating cereal for supper … and chocolate tastes better soft anyway.

More bags!

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So I’ve spent the last couple of days working on some new quilted bags and I can tell you that while these things can take just as long as making one of my quilts, they’re a different kind of fun and I’m learning some really cool techniques.

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This caddy was made using a pattern from ByAnnie.com and I love Annie’s finishing touches.  I don’t like loose bag linings and I’m not a fan of having raw seam allowances exposed, so I appreciate her attention to detail.  There are so many pockets inside and out – this is a great little storage caddy that can be used for so many different things!

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The floral bag below is my own design using some of the simple techniques I’ve learned from other patterns.  It has a slip pocket on each side and big inside zippered pocket.

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More bags (AND QUILTS!) to come as I keep busy tucked inside my house avoiding the extreme heat we are experiencing right now!

Here’s a video of me opening a fat quarter bundle I’ve been waiting for; it’s loaded with great prints for more bags 🙂

 

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