Challenge Swap

For the third year, a small quilting group I belong to has done a fun challenge and swap combination project.  Around September or October we each bring a piece of fabric (fat quarter or larger) to a meeting and place it in a brown paper bag.  One by one we each pull out a piece of fabric and try to guess who put that fabric into the bag.  We are surprisingly accurate!  We then take the fabric that we pulled out and make a gift for the person who originally put the fabric in the swap.  It can be anything sewn, and there is usually a wide range of projects that come out of this challenge and swap.

This year the fabric I pulled out of the bag was a cute rectangular dot print on a light green background.  Since the green is so light, it almost read as a neutral.  It looked good with so many different colors!  In the end, I loved the line and dot effect of the black and white batik with the dot print.

I decided to make a project bag with pockets around the outside to hold supplies and notions.  The lower half of the bag has a structure of Annie’s Soft and Stable so that it will stand easily on its own.  The bag is fully lined so there won’t be a chance of having a work in progress catching on any seams or picking up unwanted threads.  I thought the orange was a fun, unexpected pop of color, and it is also a favorite of the swap recipient!

 

Back to the Bionic Bag

Most of my go-to sewing supplies and notions live in a Bionic Bag that I made several years ago.  It travels around the house from sewing machine to sofa or patio for hand stitching, and it goes with me to guild, sew-ins, and shops when I teach.  This bag is frequently admired, and following several recent requests, I will be teaching this pattern next January at Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.

It was so much fun to choose new fabrics for the shop sample!  I love to mix and match fabrics from different designers and lines, and this project was no exception.  The main outer fabric is from Carrie Bloomston’s new Wonder line, and the other fabrics are a mix of designers including Alison Glass and Tula Pink.  I used a walking foot to do some linear quilting on the bag exterior.  I like the look and texture of the quilted bag, but you can also choose to use an iron on interfacing and skip the quilting step.

One of the things I love about the design of this bag is the way the front folds creates a tray when the bag is open.  In this section, I like to add magnetic snaps to hold the dumpling pouch and a small pin cushion.  I use the dumpling pouch for wonder clips, and the pin cushion is stuffed with scraps of wool batting and keeps pins and needles within easy reach.

Between the four zippered pockets and the pouches formed between them, you can fit almost every supply you need for a day or more of sewing.  Once you have made one of these bags, they go together very quickly and make great gifts for sewists and non-sewists  alike.  I have made several over the years, and you can check one out in this Bionic Bag post from a couple years ago.  The Bionic Gear Bag pattern is available for download on Craftsy.

If you would like to join me for the class, it will be held at Dabble and Stitch on Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 10am-4pm. During the day, you will construct most of your Bionic Bag, and you may or may not have time to to work on the optional dumpling pouch.  I hope to see you there!

Vinyl Front Tula Pouch

For the second year, one of the sewing groups I belong to did a swap.  This swap has a twist:  Each person brings a fat quarter of a favorite fabric from their stash to put in a bag.  Then, we all take turns pulling out a piece of fabric and guess who it belongs to.  We are a small group, so we are typically pretty successful in guessing the owner of the fabric.  We each take the fabric away and come back a couple meetings later with an item made from the fabric we pulled from the bag to give back to the original person.

Tula Vinyl Pouch front

I pulled this cute Tula Pink cat print from the bag of fat quarters.  It happened to be a fabric that I love enough to own, too!  The person who brought the fabric enjoys hand applique and embroidery, so I thought she may like a bag that will keep all of her pieces flat and visible until it is their turn to be secured to the block.

I used a fairly heavy, clear vinyl for the front of the pouch. The primary fabric is the cat print, and for the back of the pouch, I chose to make a nine patch from a charm pack from the same Tula Pink fabric line.  I sandwiched and quilted the fabric layers with a piece of soft and stable to make sure the pouch would lay flat while maintaining flexibility.

Tula Vinyl Pouch back

The binding is also from that same line of prints.  I machine stitched it to the front and folded it around to the back for hand stitching.  This allowed for hand finishing on the fabric portion of the pouch.  The bag finishes a bit over 13″ square, so a lot of quilt blocks could actually lay flat in the pouch.  I wish I had made one for myself when I was in a couple of bees- it would have been perfect to transport blocks!

Canvas Gift Bags

As I was wrapping gifts on Saturday it occurred to me that a reusable bag would make more sense for several of the items I was about to wrap.  I don’t usually purchase a large amount of any single fabric, but I did have some plain canvas on hand.  Since the canvas has more body and substance to it than a standard quilting cotton, it didn’t even require a full lining.

Drawstring Gift Bag

The Christmas-y fabrics I had on hand were also very limited, but I did have enough to use as a facing on the top of the bag to add a bit of color and create the drawstring casings.  Awhile back I had ordered 3/8″ grosgrain ribbon in a variety of colors to have on hand for various projects, and it worked perfectly for this project.  It was purchased from cheeptrims.com (not an affiliate) which has great prices, but does have a minimum order, so you may want to pool orders with a friend.

Drawstring Bag Top View

To calculate the size of each bag, I loosely wrapped a fabric measurement tape around the gift, leaving a few inches excess to allow for seam allowance and ease.  Half of this measurement was the width of the bag.  For the height I also wrapped the measuring tape around the gift vertically and divided the measurement in half.  I made sure to add 7-8″ to each half to allow for the gathering at the top of the bag and for the ruffle at the top.  The corners are also boxed out to give the bag a bit more dimension.

These bags work great, and I’ll be making more to gift in future years!

Open-Out Box Pouches

The Open-Out Box Pouch was the star of a recent sew-in I participated in.  This adorable pattern is designed by Comfort Stitching.  We came to the sew-in with the bag pieces pre-cut and interfacing pressed into place, so I was able to get two sewn in a few hours.

Open Out Box Pouch Pair

The pouch with the llamas is the one I was making for myself, so I did each step on it before working on the second pouch.  That way I was hopefully making any mistakes on my own pouch instead of the one I was planning to gift.  The matching zipper helped hide some of the first-time-making-a-pattern-awkwardness! For the folded tab, I chose cork for both bags.

Llama Open Out Box Pouch

This bag looks similar to a lot of zippered pouches at first glance, but this one has a separating zipper that allows the bag to open into a boxed shape.  It is great to be able to see everything in the bag, and it sits open without any effort.  Inserting the gusset was a little tricky, but after trying one, the next went really smoothly.

Llama Open Out Box Pouch open

For the second pouch I chose a triangle print in a blue ombre with green lining and orange zipper.  Blue and orange is my favorite complementary color scheme!  This pouch ultimately became part of the gift exchange at the holiday party for one of my guilds, and I think it went to a good home!

Triangle Print Open Out Box Pouch

Triangle Print Open Out Box Pouch open