Sew Day Success

Weird Red Sun
Weird Red Sun

I went back and forth on what to bring to Sew Day. I thought for sure I would bring my machine. We are having a heat wave, which means record temperatures. I was hot and not really in the mood to be dragging a ton of stuff around, so in the end, I just brought projects to prep/cut out.

Sew Day Prep Completed
Sew Day Prep Completed

This focus was a good move. I was able to cut out or prepare 5.25 projects, which means it is time to sew again – HA! Not that it is ever time NOT to sew:

  • Finished trimming Dots & Stripes HSTs
  • Prepped En Provence HSTs
  • Cut out Napkin fronts
  • Cut out gift bags
  • Cut out 2 more Little Cell Phone Wallet bag parts
  • Started prepping more Sew Together Bags
Sew Day Projects
Sew Day Projects

I found another stash of HSTs that go with the Dots & Stripes HSTs I mentioned last week. They will make the piece larger, which is always good. I trimmed the last few I didn’t have time to trim at Craft Night and trimmed this new stash. Some progress.

I had cut the squares for the En Provence HSTs on Friday night, so I had sixteen less things (fabrics) to haul to sew day. I pinned the squares together and drew the lines in preparation for sewing using my Triangle Technique at home.

I grabbed the coffee fabric, which had been hanging around for awhile. I always intended it to be napkins, but I get tired of making them after a few. I had never gotten to cutting this fabric. I did on Saturday and yesterday I had an idea of what backing to use and who they will go to as a gift. I need to get to work.

It is hard to know whether to count cutting out gift bags as one project or one per fabric. I counted using a hybrid method. There were three different fabrics and I will end up with probably 7 bags total.

I also found the fabrics for my last two cell phone wallets. Now all of the pieces out of all the fabrics are cut. I need to start sewing, because I really miss not having the matching bags when I wear my tunics and dresses.

Finally, I started three more Sew Together Bags. One will be for me. I will use it for embroidery. The other two will be gifts. I only got one step of pieces cut, but it is a start. After making three at a time last winter, I think it takes almost the same amount of time to make three at once as it does to make one at a time. As you know the cutting of the pieces is the worst part. The weird thing is that the fabrics I want to use for the exterior have disappeared. I can’t move on to sewing until I find those.

Anna and Nicole, who I had never met came and showed off their projects. Anna is making a table runner with a Lone Star block in the center. She is using nice soft colors. Nicole is hand quilting a beautiful log cabin quilt made from a lovely combination of blues and greens. The fabrics looked like batiks, but I didn’t look that closely.

Mary had surgery on her elbow so mostly chatted with me, but did a little bit of handstitching. She also met with the Retreat committee.

Bonnie was making nametags for the Retreat with help from Nancy.

Marti was making round mug rugs. I have been thinking of making a couple of mug rugs for the Puzzle Guys at work, so she inspired me.

Lynette was working on zipper pouches she will donate to a holiday boutique to raise money for the Belmont Senior Center.

Others were there as well. We tried to keep cool and had some fans to help. It was a fun day and I am glad I went. I feel like I accomplished stuff.

Mine All Mine!

Jaye's Sew Together Bag - closed
Jaye’s Sew Together Bag – closed

Finally! I made a Sew Together Bag for myself. I haven’t filled it up with my English Paper Piecing materials as of this writing, but I will have done by the time you read this.

I am not sure why I chose the paint can fabric for the outside. It was waiting to be ironed and it kept beckoning me. I couldn’t resist and it was perfect. It feels like a good outside for a working bag. I also think I won’t wonder why I chose it.

I didn’t mean to match the top, but I did a pretty good unintentional job, don’t you think?

Jaye's Sew Together Bag -some fabric choices
Jaye’s Sew Together Bag -some fabric choices

I chose the inside fabrics very carefully. I wanted fabrics that I loved. A lot of these are new or new-ish fabrics, but have the feel of old favorites. All the choices has to be light for the inside so I can see the tools that fall to the very bottom. I did choose one dark violet/magenta Karen Lewis fabric. It isn’t light, but I think it will be fine.

As I mentioned the other day, I made this one at the same time I made TFQ’s. After I cut all the pieces I sewed the steps for one and then the next until the end when I had to get TFQ’s done because she was coming to visit and I needed to gift it. I finished mine in a few quiet half hours over the weekend after the fun and games with TFQ.

My Sew Together Bag - open
My Sew Together Bag – open

I added a couple of pinks for the inside of the pockets, but they are hard to see unless you have the bag with you.

Jaye's Sew Together Bag - closed, side view
Jaye’s Sew Together Bag – closed, side view

I tried one thing on mine to try and cover up the stitching of the side panels to the lining. (If you look at the photo above, the area I am talking about is a vertical line of binding on the ends just in from the curvy handle). At the end of the process, when I was putting on the binding strips, I sewed the binding to the bottom first then wrapped it around to the top. I still had to deal with the thickness, but I was able to see where I had stitched and could make an attempt to cover it.

Sew Together Bag with zipper pull
Sew Together Bag with zipper pull

I received a zipper pull for Christmas and decided to put it on the bag. Why not? I had it. It would make the long zipper easier to pull and it would look cool. Also, I wouldn’t have a random zipper pull floating around the house.

It fits perfectly and looks cool (at least to me!). One problem is that the zipper pull is one sided. When I open the long zipper to access my EPP materials, the zipper pull ends up on the other side of the bag upside down. I know this is silly. It would be better to get a two-sided zipper pull. Since I already had this, I am going to continue to use it but I would advise you to get a two sided zipper pull if you are out buying one.

I have an idea of making one using beads for the next STB, but we will see.

Upside down zipper pull
Upside down zipper pull

I filled the bag on Friday. I took my regular handwork bag and put some items from that bag into my new Sew Together Bag. I took all of the stuff I might need for English Paper Piecing. I may have mentioned that I intended all along to use this for my English paper piecing project. Two problems I had in the filling: would I get a second pair of Gingher snips to put in my regular handwork bag? I also forgot thread. I meant to go upstairs and get another spool and I just forgot, or got distracted. That forced me to go to quilt shops over the weekend. 😉

Sew Together Bag in my lap
Sew Together Bag in my lap

In using the bag in the car, I found the best part to be the ‘tray’ that the bag formed in my lap. With my old handwork bag, it didn’t open as far as this one so my lap was my tray. Also, everything was sorted into pockets. As I got used to where my tools and supplies were located, I found I could work relatively quickly. I finished on two EPP stars in the car, placing the bag with the pincushion towards me. I found it to be very useful and convenient.

Some Observations

  • I think the strips for the long zipper would lay better if they were on the bias.
  • The bag needs some feature to which Wonder Clips can be clipped.
  • I tried a few different things and cannot get the top stitching to look good where there are many, many layers.
  • WonderClips are a godsend for making this project. I used about 12. They are not listed on the supply list, but I think they are essential for this bag.
  • Make the pincushion (mine is a little too large on this one) and the exterior at the beginning of the bag making process. It is such a hassle to stop and do the fiddly bits when you are so close to finishing.
  • Use a two sided zipper pull

I have an idea for one more that I want to make, but it isn’t a requirement and I think I will let the feeling lie for awhile.

After making this bag 4 times, I am tempted to try the Bionic Bag just to see the differences. I am trying to restrain myself. I need another bag pattern like I need a hole in my head.

Gift Post #9: Periwinkle Sew Together Bag

I know you have to be wondering if the gift madness ever ends. One thing is that I know LOTS of fantastic people with birthdays in January. I don’t give all of them gifts, but the ones for whom I do make gifts mean the ‘holiday’ season seems to stretch well into January. It is easier just to continue the numbering of the gift posts as the making often starts in December or before.

For this particular bag, the making started last week. The planning, hunting and gathering started well before, but the actual making had to wait until I had finished some other projects.

TFQ Sew Together Bag - closed
TFQ Sew Together Bag – closed

I wanted to make 2 more Sew Together Bags, including one for me, so I decided I would make both at one time. After the cutting, which still seems to take me forever, but was easier doing two at a time, I got started. I was surprised to find that I plowed through the same amount of work on two STBs in the same amount of time as I had on the second STB. Don’t get me wrong! I referred frequently to the Quilt Barn Sew-a-Long posts as the process is complicated and not firmly ensconced in my head. Seriously! Those posts are life savers.

I wanted this Sew Together Bag to match the Multi-tasker Tote I made. One birthday – a set of gifts. As I mentioned, I didn’t have any more of the black batik. I decided to use the Multi-tasker Tote lining fabric as the outside. I used the dark for the Multi-tasker Tote, because it doesn’t show the dirt as much, but with the Sew Together Bag, it probably would just stay at home with handwork materials in it and not be on the floor of the bus, etc.

Pocket Panel Showing Fabrics
Pocket Panel Showing Fabrics

In addition to the lining fabric, I chose the fabrics carefully. I wanted them to be really pretty and interesting. I also wanted each section to be different, so that the differences would provide visual cues when searching for supplies or tools. I am particularly pleased with the fabrics I chose for this STB.

The violet fabric on the left has a bit of an Asian feel, which is not normally my style. I was particularly attracted to that fabric when thinking of TFQ. I was pleased that she like it as well.

I still had trouble with the thickness of some of the steps. I tried not sewing all the way to end of the side panels so I could flatten them out. The idea was good, but the flattening didn’t work out. I also thought of trimming the batting away from the edge of the exterior. By the time I got to that point, it was impossible to trim the batting. Foiled on both attempts! TFQ suggested using ShapeFlex instead of batting next time (will their be a next time???). I thought it might not provide a sturdy/thick enough exterior, but I might try it.

TFQ Sew Together Bag - open
TFQ Sew Together Bag – open

I am pleased with this version, especially with the colors of the pocket panel. I hope it is useful.

Gift Post #5: STB #2

Purple Chair Sew Together Bag - closed
Purple Chair Sew Together Bag – closed

I had plans all along to make a second Sew Together Bag and after I finished the first one, I was even more determined. I started it on the Sunday after Christmas (December 27, 2015) and finished the first 4 steps that day. I left the finishing steps to the next day, so that I could try and do my best work.

I had trouble with the sizes of the pieces again, so many of the pieces were too big. Better to big than too small, I suppose, but it is still annoying when the pieces don’t line up.

I am also not that happy with the topstitching, but since the colors matched better than the first one, they aren’t as visible.

Purple Chair Sew Together Bag - open
Purple Chair Sew Together Bag – open

One of the things I like about the Quilt Barn Tutorial is the fabrics that they chose. The fabric for each section is different. I thought having different fabrics in each section would provide a good visual cue for the person using it, e.g. “my EPP papers are in the dot section,” etc. that is why I used, mostly, different fabrics in each section. I wanted this STB to go with the other items I made for Julie last year, so the internal zippered sections do have some of the Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets fabrics on the inside.

I don’t have many light colored purple fabrics except for dots. Julie isn’t as much of a dot fiend as I am, but I think she liked the fabric choices.

Purple Chair Sew Together Bag - zipper tabs
Purple Chair Sew Together Bag – zipper tabs

Finally, I was particularly proud of the zipper tabs at the end. I thought they looked really good.

Julie said she thought it would be useful. I know she doesn’t do a lot of handwork, but it is a large-ish bag and can hold her things for the retreat later this month.

I am pleased when people like the gifts I give them, but I usually make a gift because I want to make it.

I am still on the fence about STB #3 as I am not sure the potential giftee will like it and these bags are a lot of work. I am going to cut out mine at the BAMQG meeting today, so I will be making that one soon. I hope to get it finished so I can use it for my EPP materials during the next NSGW trip in a few weeks.

Gift Post #3: Sew Together Bag

Watercolor Box Sew Together Bag
Watercolor Box Sew Together Bag

I made this Sew Together Bag for my mom. I like the way it turned out, but had some issues making it.

This is a challenging pattern. The combination of the zippers and the layers which need to be sewn together combine to make this project a challenge.

The first problem I had was with the directions. Because cutting is a good activity when I am away from my workroom, I decided to cut out the bag when I went to Reno to visit Kathleen. First, I read through the directions. The first page talks about “embellishments.” When I think of embellishments, I think of beads, buttons, charms, stitching. I think these things are included in what the directions are getting at, but I think the designer really meant special piecing and quilting.

I wanted to quilt this piece a little to give the outside some heft, but the directions were very unclear on whether I was supposed to quilt the exterior and the batting or add a backing/lining piece and quilt through the three layers as I would a quilt. I ended up making a two layer sandwich (no backing) and quilting that. The piece ended up too small and I am not sure whether I quilted too much or whether I cut the piece too small. I’ll have to check and see if I cut it wrong when I made the next one.

Pocket Panel with attached Side Panels
Pocket Panel with attached Side Panels

I thought I would be defeated by this pattern when I got to the pocket panel. I had no idea what the designer was trying to say when she said to put the four pocket pieces together. The section isn’t difficult to actually do, but explaining how to do it is difficult and I could not understand the pattern. I looked at the Sew-a-Long blog post describing this step and that helped a lot. This is the hardest step IMO.

After doing the pocket panel, the thickness began to kick in and wreak havoc with my attempts to make the piece look professional. I think someone with a Juki or other pseudo-industrial machine may have an easier time.

Matching Colors, Ordering Thread
Matching Colors, Ordering Thread

I was stymied for a bit because I didn’t have the correct colored thread. I wanted the thread for the binding to match the binding. I ordered from Red Rock Threads and had the thread in a few days. Hooray for great customer service and fast shipping.

Once I had the thread, I was able to finish the bag. It was slow going, but I did it.

Wonderclips holding it all together
Wonderclips holding it all together

WonderClips are not mentioned on the supply list, but I found them to be invaluable when holding the piece together to sew on the binding.

Matching Thread
Matching Thread

I really could not have gotten through this pattern without the archived sew-a-long directions and all of the photos showed in the Quilt Barn blog. Click on the link, print the blog posts and keep them with your pattern.

Mom and her STB
Mom and her STB

Mom really liked the bag, for which I was very grateful.

She opened it on Christmas and filled it up with her small gifts and stocking stuffers to transport home.

Filled STB
Filled STB

I did struggle with the construction, but felt confident enough to make a second bag, which I have started and am a step plus some thread weaving in from finishing. I just bought zippers to make two more.


Random Update: STB


I have a couple of Sew Together Bags (SBT) on my list of Projects To Do. I have mentioned before that I find the prep of bags to be daunting. Unlike quilts, you can’t really cut as you go. It is a little frustrating to do that, if nothing else. Still cutting out bunches of pieces is no picnic either. I did a lot of cutting on my trip to Reno and that helped me, not only move forward on projects (even though I can’t show them just yet), but also be inspired to make other projects of the same kind. At the moment, I am just being inspired. I have not yet cut out other projects since I have a couple from that mass prepping session to sew.

SBT: big zipper section
SBT: big zipper section

A few of us on Facebook have, coincidentally, SBTs on our list of to dos and we have been sharing tips and tricks. It is very helpful. One helpful tip was that there was a sew-a-long done by The Quilt Barn a few years ago and it still posted. I had some problems seeing it on my mobile device, but no problem from my computer. It really helps on the first zipper step, which is all the farther I have gotten on the sewing part of the project. Still, it is nice to see the other ladies finish and post their SBTs as well as the progress they are making.