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.
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.
For the fusible, I used Misty Fuse®. I really love this product. It doesn’t add weight to your fabric, you can lift it up if need be, and it doesn’t leave any gunk on your needle. None! Plus you don’t have to reverse the pattern when tracing. If you’ve never tried Misty Fuse®, I suggest you do. Basically you trace your shape onto parchment paper, place the Misty Fuse ® between your fabric and parchment paper and iron. This process transfers the pencil onto the fabric. GENIUS!
The fun begins when you get all your pieces cut out and then start placing them. A few years back, I taught a technique where you prequilt your background before appliquing. This pattern is so fun to look at so it didn’t need anything extra. I used a very narrow zig-zag stitch for this process. I didn’t follow any lines, just enough to hold it together. This is a wall hanging; not a quilt that is going to be washed on a regular basis.
Once the shapes were fused onto the background, I begin stitching. This stitching also served as quilting. I used a small blanket stitch. I could have stitched down each piece before fusing the next, but I really wanted to practice my blanket stitch and didn’t want to add bulk. (I have a big fusible project on the tarmac and perfecting, well at least improving this skill will come in handy.)
I had fun digitizing some of the pieces. The spider web was stitched with Glow in the Dark thread; the fact that I actually remembered having this product is in itself amazing.I must tell my daughter; she sometimes thinks I’m losing my mind.The cat and pumpkin were done with Bernina’s DesignWorks and the owl, tree, and bats are machine embroidered that I digitized.
The pattern showed squiggly lines on the prairie points, so I spent a little extra time doing that. I love how a basic stitch like a zig-zag can add so much whimsy to a piece.
I’m giving myself a pat on the back for getting this done well ahead of Halloween.
Here is the bag I made for my friend’s charity raffle. I used the book, The Better Bag Maker, by 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.