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Celebrating National Quilting Day

Baby Quilt 2007 Pam Varner
My First Quilt









I’m sharing the first quilt I made from start to binding. I didn’t have a pattern; mistake one. I’d never done the quilting process and backed with Minky; mistake two. I’d never used a walking foot. Never the less, I forged on. I had seen a block like this somewhere, looked easy. I didn’t know that the borders could be cut in 2 pieces, so I didn’t. The only way I could figure out to make it work was with partial seams. I’ve put arrows so you can see what I am referring to.

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WordPress Swag

wp tshirt backpack

Sometimes I open my mouth and by the time I realize what I’ve said, it is too late to take the words back. I went down this road again recently at a WordPress Meetup event. I am always motivated after these monthly meetings and apparently the adrenaline kicked in a little early on this particular evening. Someone had shown up with WordPress swag as gifts for a contest. I don’t know what it is about swag that gets me excited, I just know that it does. I’m not sure, but I think winning both a coffee cup and sunglasses added to my already altered state of mind.  Anyway, I opened my mouth and said, “I can turn that t-shirt into a backpack and bring it back next month.”  In a nano second, the t-shirt appeared in my hands.

I was still feeling the excitement on the drive home.  I had won a contest, met some new folks, and was filled with ideas.  Life was GRAND!

A few days later, reality set in. I had never made a back-pack out of a t-shirt, but I had a pattern. Unfortunately, my habit of test sewing a project took over my sanity. More often than not, my finished projects are scrutinized by fellow sewers; this time it was going into the hands of those who were going to judge it on an entirely different level.  I knew I had to improve the stability of the final bag. so a woven cotton lining and corded straps were added.

The bag was finished with a few days to spare. My serger became a casualty and needs to be taken to the tech, but all in all everything worked out.

On the evening of the unveiling, I wandered into the meeting nervous as hell. What would this audience think? My fears quickly vanished as familiar faces came into sight. I handed over the backpack to Lance, the WP guru guy who helps run these meetings. He asked me later if I wanted it back, to which I replied that I had made it for him and he could do whatever he wanted. He then said he was going to send it to San Francisco to the WordPress Museum.


There’s a WordPress Museum?

Flattered and amazed in the same sentence. It just doesn’t get any better than that.


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November 1st Project: Grocery Bags

Stand 'N Stow Bags
Stand ‘N Stow Bags

So Christmas is over and now that the gifts have been opened, I can finally update everyone on what I was up to the last 2 months.

Grocery Bags: I love the Stand ‘n Stow pattern by Atkinson Designs.  I first made this bag about a year ago and promptly left it somewhere. The secret to this bag, in my opinion, is the use of Pellon’s Peltex 71F stabilizer.  This gives the bag shape and allows it to stand upright, like the paper grocery bags of my youth. Plus they fold flat so they are easy to store. I keep mine in the back seat of my car. The large one holds gallon milk bottles and tons (ok maybe not actual tons, but a lot) of groceries.

My Sassy adjustments:

I either want straps that are long enough to be shoulder straps or short enough to carry without the bag dragging on the ground. I made the straps 27″. This measurement is perfect for me. The added plus at this length, is that you can wrap the straps around the bottom of the bag to hold it closed for storing. There is still enough length to carry the bag when it is full.

I found inserting the peltex to be easier if I put a ruler in the fabric opening to slide the stabilizer on. This really sped up that step.


Slide ruler inside fabric
Slide ruler inside fabric
Slide Peltex along ruler
Slide Peltex along ruler











The pattern calls for covering the inside side seams with a binding. In an effort to save time and fabric, I serged those seams. It’s a grocery bag, not an evening one.

Lastly, I did not put binding on the top. I cut the fabric a little longer and folded it over and topstitched it down. I did press the fold and opened it before sewing the side seams.

So far, the reviews have been great. My daughter took hers to the grocery store this afternoon and received a number of comments/compliments. I love hearing about those.

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July: The Better Bag

My Better Bag
My Better Bag

Here is the bag I made for my friend’s charity raffle. I used the book, The Better Bag Makerby Nicole Mallalieu. There are a number of reasons I like this book. The first half is filled with great  techniques including excellent ideas for giving your homemade bags a professional finish. The second half is a series of projects that are organized so that you build a new skill with each bag. Remember math? Learn how to add before you multiply. I love math, so this concept was an easy one…..except I didn’t follow it. Went straight to project number 2. I’ve made a few bags in my life, so what could go wrong?

Well, not really understanding the construction as it is a little different from anything I’ve done.  Would have got that down in project 1. Then there was the time I spent redrafting the pattern so that I didn’t have to copy the pattern.  Much easier to use a rotary cutter; and it was.  Problem was that I was on a time crunch and no one would have known if I made the bag bigger or smaller than the pattern called for. (side note: another great thing about this book is that she teaches you how to adjust pattern sizes to your liking/needs/whim/whatever.) Great lesson, but again, if I had done project 1, the bag could have been done in less than a day. A few blunders, but the end result is exactly what I wanted.

Then there was the weather. Living in the Southwest, we are in the middle of Monsoon Season.  Thunder and Lightning almost daily and usually late in the afternoon. I like to sew in the afternoon.  OOOPS; didn’t factor that in and lost an entire afternoon and evening to a storm, which also left me with some extra water in my bathroom.  NOT FUN.

All in all, it was a weekend well spent.  I learned a few techniques, picked up a trick or two, and was able to present my friend with a homemade summery bag, that doesn’t look so homemade. To top that, it’s almost the end of July and I am more than half way to my goal for the year.

Here’s the photo of the top and inside “professional” finishing.

Close up of finishing