Just recently I’ve had a bit of a fetish for bags.
Not just the expensive, bought-in-Paris-on-the-Champs-Elysées-dahling kind of bags (though I have to admit that those are a major fetish too – just ask poor RR…) But recently, it’s also been for ones I have made with my own fair hands.
It all started back in October, at the Patchwork in the Peaks quilt retreat, when the lovely Katy of The Littlest Thistle taught us to make the Aeroplane Bag. My previous forays into bag making hadn’t been a roaring success. I’d somehow managed to cobble together a couple of tote bags in the past, but then I over-reached myself and decided to have a stab at Amy Butler’s Weekender Bag. Big mistake. Suffice to it wasn’t my finest hour, and some Very Bad Words were uttered many times over. After that, I decided bag making was not for me.
Then Katy came along and showed me that it could all be so different!
I’m not saying that No Bad Words were uttered during the process, or that I found it all plain sailing, but Katy was calm and unflappable and taught me loads. More importantly, she gave me the confidence to try bag making again.
Firstly, I made Mum a bag for Christmas. Aeroplane Mk II. With dogs on. She loved it!
Then, Katy brought out her own bag pattern – Whole Lotta Bag. It’s a roomy messenger style bag with loads of pockets that I thought would be ideal to take along on my frequent travels. She’s currently running a sew-along over on her blog, and I’m taking part. I’m even almost up to date…
Then last week I really went for it. Oh yeah, baby!
First of all, I used some scraps to make this itty bitty bag. It was inspired by a pattern in Jelly Roll Scraps – Twenty to Make by Carolyn Forster, which I’d picked up on my last trip to the UK – only, being me, I changed it up a little 🙂
The red and pinky scraps are from my Broken Herringbone quilt, and the black ones are left over from a quilt I made RR 3 or 4 years ago. The lining was a remnant from Dad’s quilt. This cute little bag measures 6″ x 7″, and I think it would be perfect for an evening out. And Mimi Bubba seems to think it makes a most agreeable pillow 🙂
Fired up by my success at making this, I decided to play around with my original Aeroplane Bag to change all the things that were really bugging me about it. Like the fact it was too floppy, the wonky topstitching, and the inexpertly-installed zip. I took the whole thing apart, added fusible fleece to stiffen the sides, and re-constructed it, paying lots of attention to the zip and the topstitching.
Et voilà! An Aeroplane Bag to be even more proud of!
Finally, I decided to tackle the Sugar Loaf Pouch from U-Handbag. I used the same fabric as I’d used for my Aeroplane Bag. And boy was it fiddly! But finally, after much fabric-wrestling, and liberal use of my machine’s walking foot, I ended up with this…
Still can’t quite work our how it ended up so small (it was meant to measure 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 3 1/3″ – it actually measures 3 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ x 2″… – presumably that’s why it was so damned fiddly!) – and somehow the zebra ended up on the bottom of the bag, but all in all, I’m really pleased with it.
So all in all, a bag-filled week, and best of all, I feel truly virtuous about my liberal use of scraps! Fabric Fast – bring it on, baby!!!
Linking up with WIP Wednesday – why not pop on over and take a look?
Well, what a wonderful weekend I had at my quilt retreat! I caught up with old friends, made new friends, sewed like crazy, ate M&Ms like they were going out of fashion, chilled out in the hot tub in the rain, had two massages, sewed some more, talked the hind legs off a donkey and generally immersed myself in all things quilty. Fantastic!
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, car jam-packed full of all our quilting paraphenalia. Despite initial fears to the contary, it did all eventually fit. In fact, there must have been room to spare because my sewing machine extension table made a bid for freedom at one point, almost decapitating poor Libbi! Needless to say, it was firmly wedged in place on the way back…
After squeals and hugs all round, we found ourselves a sewing spot and set up our machines. And before long the room was a hive of activity with sewing machines a-whirring, accompanied by much chattering and laughter. Despite the glorious view just a few metres from our sewing tables, we only had eyes for our fabric!
As always, the Thursday was ‘free time’ for us to work on our own projects, so I got to work piecing my Chain Saw quilt. The plan was to finish the top this weekend, but unfortunately I hit a little snag when I realised I’d pieced together all my directional prints back to front… Grrrrrrr…..
So in the end I sewed 32 out of my 36 blocks. They came together really quickly, and once I’d given them a little trim and a press, they looked lovely.
Well, the more I sew, the more I learn, so hopefully I’ll be more careful next time and remember directional fabrics are called directional because they have a direction to them! Anyway, at least most of the blocks for the top are finished now…
Friday was designated Bag Day. Now I’ve made a few bags over the years, but my last foray into bag-making (the Weekender bag by Amy Butler) had traumatised me to such an extent that I vowed Never Again. Well, never say never, as they say. My resolve lasted until I saw the picture of this one! Billed as an optional workshop, the Aeroplane Bag pattern by Sara at Sew Sweetness ended up tempting every single one of us ladies 🙂 And with bag-making expert Katy Cameron on hand to help and encourage us, we all finished them too!
As I mentioned here, I chose Echino fabric for the outside of the bag, and a plain Bella royal purple for the lining. And it worked really well together. Here’s my completed bag – I’m so proud of it!!!
I fussy-cut the fabric so that I had the zebra bang in the middle of one side and the giraffe in the middle of the other, then I stole Heather’s idea and added piping between the top and bottom sections of the bag, which I think adds a really nice touch. Finally, I embellished it with a beautiful folded fabric flower, taught by Quilt Fairy Gina as part of her Mystery Scrap Attack project.
I was the last to finish, but thanks to the extremely lovely and patient Katy, we all got there in the end. And how beautiful they look, all lined up in a row, with Teacher behind them!
On the Saturday, it was time to tackle the Texas Teardrop pattern. I’d brought 2 possible choices of fabric with me, but when I saw Elita’s examples, and she talked about what worked well in terms of fabric, I realised that this wasn’t the right pattern for either of them. Never fear, they will go back into my stash for future use – in fact, I may well already have projects lined up for them! We were given free access to Elita’s extensive collection of scraps to make practice blocks, and I ended up making 2 – one using fusible interfacing, which I’ve tried before, and one using Lucie Summers’ Porthole technique, which was totally new to me.
I’ve not done any appliqué for a while, so I was pleased to refresh my memory on how to apply fusible interfacing and secure the raw edges. And it’s a good thing I was using scraps, because I totally stuffed up my first attempt. The fusible moved whilst I was ironing and didn’t meet up at one of the points, then half of it wouldn’t stick and it just ended up in an icky gooey yucky mess all over the fabric…
Cue Elita to the rescue! She helped me rectify my boo-boo, and I got on with fusing the other pieces, more carefully this time! I then decided to use some of my machine’s decorative stitches to appliqué down the edges. Pretty pretty pretty!
The porthole technique was interesting, but a bit too fiddly for me to be honest. I do have problems with my hands and fine motor skills, and I just don’t have the manual dexterity needed to do this well. But I persevered and made this second block – just don’t look at it too closely!
And here are some of our finished blocks up on the portable design wall….
In the meantime, Miss Speedy Quilter JJ (possibly the most prolific quilter I have ever met!) managed to get a whole top of these blocks done – take a look on her blog to see how pretty her pink and green batik version looks when it’s all done.
And now I’m back home, relaxed and happy. All my things are unpacked and put away and although I was sad that it was over for another 6 months, I left feeling totally inspired with loads of ideas for kickstarting old projects and designs for new ones too. I think I’ll be spending some time in my sewing room this week 🙂
I arrived home to a clean apartment, a rapturous welcome from Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba, and yummy smells emanating from the kitchen. The ever-lovely RR (who, incidentally, is a fabulous cook) had prepared dinner for me. Two delicious curries – a vegetable jalfrezi and a muttar paneer – with naan bread. He had made the paneer from scratch, too…
OMG it was so good! And all I had to do was roll out the defrosted naan dough and grill it. Oh, and eat it too!
All in all, a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend!