Sooo … I might have gotten completely distracted by the challenge fabric and worked on that instead. Bad M!
I decided that this challenge would be perfect to try out on a charm-square bag! There are lots of free tutorials online for this if you want to make it yourself. I used this one, but it was just a series of pictures showing how it goes together. Some people may prefer to find something with more words.
First, cut out your squares. I cut eight 4″ squares of each colour. I’d recommend going much, much bigger than that, but I’m trying to just use the three FQ fabrics, so mine will be a mini-tote. Incidentally, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love my frosted 6″ square ruler. Every time I use it, I think about getting all the frosted rulers. They just work for me!
Next, lay out your fabric to see what you want to go where. This is when I realized I was 2 squares short – kinda. I technically had one white and one yellow square left over, but I thought it would throw off the pattern I had going. I didn’t want to use any more of my focus fabric, so I dipped into my stash and came up with this dark royal blue that matched the dark leaves perfectly. Plus, it’s better to have dark on the bottom of the bag – that’s where all the dirt gets picked up!
Next, I sewed the rows together. You can do this in whichever direction makes most sense to you. Once I had the whole bag together, I pinned it so I could see the shape that I was going for.
At this point, I switched to the lining. I had great plans for the lining as well. I took the gold and the white left over fabric and ran a seam down it, joining the two pieces together. Then, I folded it and half and placed the unpinned bag on top to see if I had enough fabric for it. I did! I outlined the bag shape with wide margins (a little bigger than a 1/4″). Bag came off the lining, the lining got pinned together so the layers would not shift, and I cut out the outline.
This is where a better walkthrough or doing more research would have helped. I forgot that most bags have some sort of fusible lining in it to had a little thickness and help give the bag some form. To be honest, though – I’m not a huge fan of fusible lining and I love the feeling of just cloth bags. They crumple better too if you’re cramming them into a pocket. What you’re supposed to do at this step is attach batting or a fusible lining to pieced part, turn it into a proper bag, sew the cloth lining into a bag, then attach the two part together so the lining is loose in the bag.
What I did was attach the lining to the bag right away and do some stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around each square. I wanted the lining and the front to have a joined feel instead of the loose bag lining feel you usually get with the standard method. It also made up for not having the fusible lining added. It did halt my progress on another front, though. Part of the reason for the loose lining is to hide all the edge seams on the inside of the bag. Since the lining was already attached to the bag, I can’t nicely join all the sides together to make the bag on the machine. I found a spool of hand quilting thread that I had been intending to take to the guild for the grab table. It’s a nice soft yellow. Hand quilting thread has a coating on it that is horrible for machines because it gums up the tension disks – it almost feels like upholstery thread. I don’t hand quilt at all and bought the thread because it was on sale for 10 cents and I mis-read the label. Since I remembered I still had this thread, I decided to hand-stitch the seams together instead! This will make the seams bump up together with a “hidden” stitch and it will allow me to incorporate my exclusive handbag handle design.
Because of how this bag goes together, the mouth of the bag is more narrow than the hold of the bag (as in ship’s hold … the interior of the bag?). Since I’m building the bag on the small side to begin with, this made the opening very narrow indeed. I could easily get my fist in and out, but I could potentially see having a problem with a super bulky wallet and definitely issues with inserting a book. To fix that, I decided to add a wider handle to the bag. The problem is that this style of bag usually attaches the handles to the upper points. So I changed the design.
I cut the handles out of the remaining square of the focus fabric. I cut on an acute diagonal so I would get as much width out of it as possible. I sewed a seam up the two edges to make an elongated triangle. The ends didn’t match up, but I cut them square after sewing the seam. Once this was done, I measured the length of the two top panels of the bag as the handle will be attached to the side. I marked the top and bottom on the handle and drew a line to follow. Back at the sewing machine, I ran the lines under my walking foot and sewed down the point. I turned just after the edge of the fabric so I would have less bulk bunching when I turned it inside out. Finally, I cut off the excess fabric and turned the handle inside out. I used my Purple Thang to make the point as pointy as possible. Word of caution: while this is a wonderful tool, I have accidentally ripped through fabric with it by pushing too hard, so keep that in mind. The handles got spritzed and ironed and are ready to be attached to the bag!
My hand sewing is really slow and I’m also knitting a birthday gift for someone turning an age on January 22, so it’s not my biggest priority right now. It is coming along though! I’m adding a bonus picture showing one side almost finished. It might look a bit funny at the bottom where everything comes together because of the way I sewed on the first handle, but I figure I’ll put a pale yellow button over that spot on both sides it it does. I’m also thinking of putting a yellow button at the top and adding a fabric loop so you can “close” the bag, but I think the mouth might be small enough to make that redundant.
As punishment for having my dessert first, I also did most of my block-of-the-month. I am really struggling with these block. Not because the patterns are wrong (Kim does a really good job at writing them) but because I evidently don’t read patterns well. All the quilts I’ve made so far have either been completely out of my head or I borrowed elements from a pattern and modified it to suit myself. The modified patterns gave me the most trouble because I was trying to understand how they did what they did so I could change or increase it. All my bags were just a little bit wrong because I would do something then realize I mis-understood what I was doing. That’s learning for me and that’s why I leave my mistakes in. I’m teaching myself to hide the mistakes in plain sight. This month’s block was a pointed flower block and I didn’t realize until I started joining them all together that I’d done it completely wrong. All the piecing was done right, but the joining was not done in the right order so it doesn’t look pointed. Since I didn’t realize this until the end of the process, I’m finishing it as-is and taking it in as an alternative design piece. It doesn’t look bad – in fact, it looks like it’s on purpose because they’re all done the same way. It’s just not according to pattern. When I post the completed quilt top in May, you’ll have to see if you can spot it.
I’m going to blame it on the concert I was watching while I was doing this. I usually watch Netflix, but I sometimes get distracted by the screen and I wanted to concentrate so I didn’t make any mistakes (HA!). It was the memorial concert for “Beard Guy” Mike Taylor from Walk Off The Earth. Like a good Canadian, I’ve always enjoyed their music and have quite a bit of it, but I’m in no way a super-fan or know much about the band’s personal life. Regardless, this concert brought me to tears a couple of times. It’s so amazing to see the impact a single person can have on a large group of people and so sad to think that most of the time, it’s not celebrated until after the person is gone.
This week, find someone who means a lot to you and tell them what makes them so special and why you love them. We should all do this more often, but it’s so easy to get bogged down in life and forget. Try to remember to show your love more often. I wish I could show my dearly departed aunt, Auntie El, how much she had meant to me and how big of an impact her presence had in my life. The only way I can do that now is to reflect her in how I behave in my own life and that will just have to be enough.