Three Bag Patterns That Were Worth Paying For

Just as there are lots of great free bag patterns, there are many excellent patterns for sale on the internet. Here are 3 of my favorites.

1. Divided Basket.  This is another pattern from Noodlehead, who also designed one of my favorite free patterns.  The instructions are excellent and the divided basket is cute.  It was just right for a diaper basket for the changing table for my grandson.  It is available here.

fabric basket

Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

2. Clothesline bag/basket.  This pattern is from Indygo Junction and was much easier to do than I had anticipated.  You can read my review of it here, or buy it here.

3. Sweetpea Pods, by Lazy Girl Designs..  This little bag was so.much.fun that I made more than a few!  Once you learn the zipper trick it is easy, quick, and so satisfying.  I’ve given away many of them and I keep a couple on hand for when I need a little gift for someone.  (Of course it should contain chocolate!).  I even gave one to a male friend, and rather than ask “what the heck” he said he’d use it to carry his guitar picks!  The pattern is available here.

And so you know I’m not just blowing sunshine, here’s one I thought was more trouble than it was worth, even though it is very, very cute (and was all over the internet for a while):

Which bag patterns do you recommend?

Three Great Free Bag Patterns

There are so many free patterns on the internet that it can be overwhelming. Therefore, I’m here to tell you about 3 of my favorite free bag patterns.

1. Pyramid bag, I adore this pattern, and it is so easy that I’ve made a few many.  Available with an excellent tutorial at Loganberry Handmade.  After you’ve made one per her instructions, experiment with different sizes.  So cute and so fun!

2. Tote bag.   The instructions for this “market tote bag” at Bijou Lovely are very clear, with great photos.  I’ve made several of these because they are an excellent, practical size. Of course, I’ve modified this pattern, but it is great just the way it is on her site.

3. Noodlehead’s Open Wide Zippered Pouch.  Anna Graham is the queen of bags of all kinds, and there are some great free tutorials on her site, Noodlehead.  Of course, she has excellent patterns for sale, and I’ve bought some of those, too.  Anyway, go try her free zippered pouch tutorial if you’ve had doubts about zippers.  Her instructions and illustrations are clear and easy, and you CAN do that zipper!

I’ve made a bunch of these in different sizes, as well.

Please tell me if there are free online patterns or tutorials that you love!

Best Bag Handles

I can’t seem to quit making tote bags, and I’m especially happy to have discovered foam batting, which makes them nice and stiff and doesn’t need to be quilted unless you just want to.

This is one I made several years ago

As a bonus, I’ve discovered that foam batting makes terrific handles for large totes.  I just wrap fabric around it and sew it down, avoiding the awful task of turning a fabric tube inside out to make a handle.  The resulting handle is quick to make and comfortable to carry. Here’s how:

Cut 2 pieces of foam batting about 1-1/2″ wide and about 1″ longer than you want the finished handles to be.  Cut fabric for handles about 4-1/2″ wide and about 3″ longer than the finished handles will be.

Use a heat-resistant straight edge to turn under a crisp 1/2″ on one long edge of each handle.  (I’m using a metal tool made by Dritz for turning up hems.)

Now turn the same long edge under an additional 1-1/4″ and press well.

Tuck the batting into the handle, centering it between the ends, so that one long edge of the batting is firmly inside the handle.

I like to use clips to hold everything in place

Now turn the remaining long edge of the handle fabric snugly around the exposed long edge of the batting and tuck this raw edge under the folded 1/2″ edge.  The ends of the handle will have raw edges, but the long edges will all appear finished now.

Topstitch close to the folded edge.  Place a second line of stitching near the other long edge of the handle so that you have a nice professional-looking handle.

Attach handles as usual, allowing about 1/2″ of the batting at each end to be sewn down to the bag.  The rest of each end, without batting inside, will go smoothly into the side of the bag so you won’t have much of a bulge where the handles are attached.  Sew that down, too.

And you’re good to go!

 

 

Thrift Shop Finds

My friend Tierney occasionally blogs about fabric she’s found in thrift shops and I’m always envious 😉 The good news is that I recently found a new (to me) and really good thrift shop. (Better news: it’s near an excellent bakery. Oops!)

A recent trip yielded 3 flat sheets, all in the same floral print.  They seem to be twin size.

I think they will make wonderful backing for some quilts!  Back in the day before there was much wide fabric available, I usually bought sheets to back my quilts, so this is a great throwback!

On the same trip I found these pewter buttons, which I believe to be good quality because they have detail on the back, not just the front.  I will use them to decorate a quilt at some point.

Oh yes…cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and cookies 😀

Bag With Kraft-Tex Base

A while back I made a bag for carrying stuff to guild meetings and used some scraps of Kraft-Tex to reinforce the base. I have enjoyed that addition, both because it helps the bag stand up on its own and because I don’t have to worry about putting the bag on the floor.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Then recently I saw this Alexander Henry fabric and of course I was forced to buy it 😉

Alexander Henry fabric showing melodramatic “sewing woes”

I decided to make another tote bag using this tutorial from Bijou Lovely Designs, Holly DeGroot’s blog.  Her tutorial includes the free pattern, so go make it if you want to.  Her instructions and illustrations are excellent.

Here are my modifications for making the base of Kraft-Tex.

Holly’s instructions used the same fabric for the bag lining and the base, so of course I didn’t do that.  I cut the Kraft-Tex base 1/2″ narrower (top to bottom measurement) than Holly’s instructions, because the base on her bag is joined with a 1/4″ seam and then pressed back.  I just appliqued the Kraft-Tex to the bag.  Naturally, that required clips rather than pins–don’t want holes in the Kraft-Tex!

You can see that the fabric wasn’t printed entirely straight; the other side was straighter.  Luckily, this bag is for fun.

You can see my top-stitching here. This is the straighter side 🙂

When it came time to press the seams open, I just folded back the seams that contained Kraft-Tex, then ran the handle of my scissors along the seam to crease the Kraft-Tex into place.

You can also see where I stitched around the edge to hold the Kraft-Tex in place before assembly

The seams were not as bulky as I had anticipated, and gave me no trouble.  The only difficult part was turning the bag right-side-out through the opening in the lining.  The Kraft-Tex was a little stiff for that, but not too bad.

The Kraft-Tex stood up but the bag sides above it drooped

When I got the bag done, the Kraft-Tex part was great, but the rest of the bag was limp despite interfacing.  I took the bag for a shakedown cruise when we went to the big city Saturday, and it was a pain to get things in and out of it because the sides collapsed.  So…

I took out the top seams, inserted pieces of Peltex cut to fit, and stitched all around them.  They needed to overlap the Kraft-Tex a little to make the whole thing stand up.

That makes this “Holly’s bag with significant modifications”, but you can still get the measurements and construction details from her blog.  I like the bag now, and it is a good size.  Next time I’ll use Peltex from the get-go, probably still with the Kraft-Tex.

Snow Day = Sew Day*

*Thanks to the Studio Stitch website for the catchy title!

We recently had enough snow that my office was closed for a day!  My husband built  a wood fire in my studio, and I spent the day getting a few projects DONE.

The tractor was ready to plow us out, but wasn’t needed for the amount of snow we got.

First, I trimmed and bound the Christmas quilt for some very special people.  You’ve seen the top before, but here it is again. It finished 55″ square.

And here is a closeup of the quilting done by Julia Madison.

I went on to make this reversible, cross-back apron, which has been on the bucket list for about a year.  The pattern is from Indygo Junction and was very easy.  Luckily, my friend Sally agreed to model it!

I also made progress on a couple of UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) but pictures of those will have to wait until they’ve been quilted.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Triple Update

First, my modern guild members wanted to add some of the quilty things they’re thankful for to my recent list.  They are thankful for:

  • The way quilting connects us to generations past and future
  • Having time to do what I want to do, which is quilting
  • The opportunity to learn new quilting techniques
  • Inspiration from friends
  • Friendships made through quilting
  • New viewpoints from others in the group
  • Deadlines to motivate me to get something finished!
  • A husband who can find his own supper 😀

Second, I am thankful to be able to teach classes, and there were some pretty place mats made at a class I taught last week. You can click on any mat to get a better view.

OK, true confession: I loved everyone’s fabrics and was forced to buy some of those fabrics before I left the shop…

Third, I finished the mats I made to demonstrate in class.  They’re for two little boys who  are learning to sit at the table to eat but are too young to read this post, so it’s safe to show these!

Any holiday sewing at your house?

What’s Next

Naturally I have started work on Christmas projects.
First, a “big boy bed” quilt for my younger grandson, which is ready except for binding.  Here are some of the cute fabrics and the cozy flannel backing:

I made a set of Christmas place mats for a quick place mat class I’ll be teaching in December.And I’ve finished the top for this quilt to be given to some special people who presumably do not read my blog!This is a modification of a pattern I found in a Quilter’s World publication called Autumn Colors:I kept the size of the squares and the idea of wonky stars. I love wonky stars! However, I added a row of squares all the way around, repositioned the stars, and eliminated the big borders. I’ll show it again when it’s quilted and bound.
What are you up to?

A Few Extra Projects

Have you ever noticed that, whenever you try to finish a big project, other little projects just creep in?
Since I always have at least one “big project” going, I guess it’s inevitable that the other things that need doing have to be fit in sideways. Lately there’s been a lot of that.
First, I appliqued an orphan block to a bag for a speaker I invited to our modern guild.

orphan block on bag

This is a great use for orphan blocks. Just attach to a bag, and you have a handmade gift!

Then I found a tutorial for a pyramid bag and had to make a few…plus one more this week!Finally, our travel wine glasses (they are Lexan, and disassemble for safe travel) needed a travel case:In the midst of all this, I started having trouble with my walking foot while trying to quilt another project! Does a walking foot wear out???

In any case, I think I have procrastinated with little projects as long as I can, so I’d better go bind a few quilts.  Have a good week!

Asheville Quilt Show

So I went to the Asheville Quilt Guild’s annual show, which usually has lots of inspiration.  There were many nice quilts, but two quilt makers stood out, in my opinion.

The first is Diana Ramsay, whom I know from the Modern Quilt Guild, which used to exist in Asheville.  Here are her quilts:

Fascinating Rhythm by Diana Ramsay

modern quilt, Asheville Quilt Show

Bulls Eye II, by Diana Ramsay

Although I don’t know Linda Fiedler, I was very impressed by her quilts, as well:

Moonglow, by Linda Fiedler

The guild’s gift shop always has something I wish I had made, and this year it was a little pyramid bag.  Of course I bought it.

I’ve always liked pyramid bags, which I first saw years ago in a craft store in Berea, Kentucky.  I had a pattern to make one, but it seemed pretty complex.  The internet to the rescue!  I found several sets of instructions and even videos.  Here are the instructions I used:

http://www.loganberryhandmade.com/sew-triangle-zipper-bag-pyramid-pouch-sewing-tutorial/

And here is the first set of pyramids. 

They were quick and easy!  Do I hear a Christmas gift idea?