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

Road Trip Case

This year for the Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild we did an end of the year gift swap with a mix of  handcrafted and purchased items.  We drew names at the November Meeting, and the person I chose had been eying the Road Trip Case by Noodlehead.  My partner likes Autumnal colors and Alison Glass designs, so I selected a palette  of her batiks and prints.

Road Trip Case Exterior

There are several different pockets and pieces of trim, so it was fun to choose where each fabric would go.  The pattern suggests batting for the quilted case exterior, but I switched it out for Soft and Stable foam, and I’m really pleased with the result.  I incorporated a few lines of walking foot quilting on the exterior using 28wt Aurifil.

Road Trip Case Interior

There are two options for the fabric pockets in the bag; two long or four short.  I wasn’t sure which to go with, but I ended up choosing the shorter pockets since it will most likely be used for sewing notions.  The pocket flaps with hook and loop tape (velcro) closures seemed useful to help contain smallish notions.  I often don’t care for hook and loop tape closers since the hook side can pick up so much fuzz.  I briefly considered replacing the tape with magnetic snaps.  Ultimately, I decided that the velcro allowed more leeway in where the pocket flap could close depending on how full the pocket was.  Hopefully it will work for my partner!

Road Trip Case Pocket detail

The case itself went together fairly easily, and I’m sure if I were to make more it would go quite quickly.  Like most bags, I felt like it took as long to cut out and interface the pieces, as it did to do the actual construction.  The vinyl pocket has the potential to be finicky, but I was pleased how well my machine handled this fabric especially since I don’t have a teflon foot.  I didn’t even end up needing to lay tissue paper over the vinyl while sewing.

The Road Trip Case looks like a great bag for small sewing projects, and would be a fabulous art kit for kids.  This would definitely make a fabulous holiday gift!

Why I Pre-wash My Quilting Fabric

I confess . . .  I’m a pre-washer.  I know that a lot of quilters prefer their fabric right off the bolt, but I feel a lot more confident about the appearance and longevity of my quilts when I know as much about my fabrics as possible before I start cutting them up.

The Big Three Reasons I Pre-Wash:

  1. The fabric will shrink before it goes into a quilt with other fabrics that may shrink at different rates
  2. If the dyes used on the fabric are going to run, I would much rather know before I put them next to other fabrics.  If a fabric bleeds a lot in the original wash, I will often wash it one or two more times.  Occasionally, there is a fabric that never stops bleeding, and I am very careful about where I will incorporate that fabric.  It may be perfectly fine in an all mid-tone quilt, but it would never be appropriate to use in a quilt with a light background.
  3. Pre-washing removes any residual chemicals or finishes that were added to the fabric during the manufacturing process.  I rarely wash my quilts immediately following the construction process, so I want it as clean as possible to start.  It also can’t hurt to make as little skin contact as possible with the residues.

One of the big downfalls that I hear about pre-washing is the tendency to have fabric ravel out.  To prevent this I stitch around the edges of the fabric prior to throwing it into the wash.  The easiest way to do this would be a serger or overlock machine, but since I don’t have one, I use my domestic machine.

You could use a zig-zag stitch to accomplish this, but my machine (as well as most other zig-zag machines) have a special stitch for this.  This stitch is called the Vari-overlock stitch in my machine manual, and it is recommended for stretch fabrics, but it works great for edging other fabrics as well.  The foot for this has a slender piece of metal that is zig-zagged over while it holds the edge of the fabric flat and prevents the fabric from rolling.

Fabric Edging Process

The stitch itself is a series of short straight stitches followed by zig-zag stitch.  You can make the stitch have tighter spacing by reducing stitch length.  I use approximately a two stitch length for edging fabric for washing.  When I use this technique for finishing edges on clothing, pillows, etc. I shorten the stitch length.

Fabric Edging Finished

How do you feel about pre-washing fabric?

Hour Basket Swap

This month one of my local quilt groups, The Columbus Modern Quilters, had a swap of one hour baskets, and I was eager to sign up.  The tutorial we used is by Hearts and Bees, and is available on Craftsy.  I had never made one before, but all it took was one practice basket, and I was hooked!

Hour Basket Exterior

Hour Basket Exterior

My partner listed Carolyn Friedlander as one of her favorite designers, so I thought it would be fun to make a basket entirely with her fabrics.  Flying geese patchwork made up the design on both sides of the basket.

Patchwork panels for an hour basket

Patchwork panels for an hour basket

For the interior, I used a strip of orange fabric that matches the arrows on the exterior of the basket, and finished it off with a wide grid that also coordinates with the basket exterior.

Hour Basket Interior

Hour Basket Interior

The swap was so much fun, and everyone loved the basket they received.  I was delighted that this basket was for me!  This is one of my favorite shades of blue, and it is just perfect for spring!

The Hour Basket that I received in the guild swap

The Hour Basket that I received in the guild swap

This also completes my One Monthly goal entry for March!