Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Basic Tote Tutorial

As promised, this is a tutorial for the tote bags I am making to go with the oncology quilts I am making.

You will need 5/8 yard of duck canvas (54" to 60" wide) and 3/8 yard of a nice cotton fabric. Note: the 3/8 yard is the exact amount you will need so ask for a little more if you are buying fabric so that you have enough to square up your edges. 

From the duck canvas, cut a 22" by 40" piece. (I like to leave the canvas folded in half and cut a 22" by 20" piece from the folded canvas. So this piece is really 22" by 40" and the fold is a nice mark for the bottom of the eventual bag.) From the left over, cut two 6" by 7.5" pieces for the pockets. From the cotton fabric, cut (3) 4" by WOF (width of fabric) strips and a 1.5" by WOF strip. Cut the selvedges off all pieces. From the 1.5" strip, cut two 1.5" by 6" pieces. Cut one of the three 4" strips in half to yield (2) 4" by half WOF pieces.

Sew one of the half 4" strips to each of the other two 4" strips. These should measure somewhere between 60" and 64" long. These will become the bag handles.

Press the sewn seam open and set these aside for a bit.

Press one of the 1.5" by 6" strips in half lengthwise.

Open this back out and press one side to the center fold.

Repeat with the other side.

Then press this in half again on along the center fold.

Repeat these steps with the other 1.5" by 6" piece. These will be the top edge of each pocket. They are decorative, but will also conceal the raw edge of the canvas pocket.

Find the two 6" by 7.5" pieces of canvas. On one of the shorter sides, press over a 1/4" twice, and then topstitch this folded edge.

The photo above shows both of my pockets with the bottom edges topstitched. The one on the left shows the "outside" or "right side" of the pocket. The one on the right shows the "inside" or "wrong side" of the pocket.

On both pockets, slip the top edge of the pocket inside the 1.5" by 6" folded piece and topstitch. Be sure that you catch both edges (inside and outside) of the cotton fabric so that the top of the pocket is securely covered on both the inside and outside of the pocket.

Set the pockets aside and pick up the 4" wide handle pieces.

Create the handles using the exact same folding process we did for the tops of the pockets, with one addition. Fold the two short sides of the handle pieces in 1/4" so that all raw edges are inside the folded handle pieces.

Topstitch along both long edges of each handle piece. You do not need to sew the short edges closed at this point. We will do this later when we attach the handles to the bag.

Set the handles aside and pick up your 22" by 40" piece of canvas.

Fold the top edges of the bag (the 22" edges) over once 1/2" and then again 1" and press.

Then topstitch both.

Now find your pocket pieces. Lay out one pocket on one side of the main bag piece, as shown in the photo below.

The pocket should be 6" up from the fold (center of the 40" of the main bag piece) and 8" in from each side of the bag. Pin the pocket in place and sew it to the bag along the bottom edge of the pocket only. The sides of the pocket will be attached with the handles.

Look closely at the photo above. You will see two sewing lines along the bottom of the pocket. The top one is from when I folded the bottom edge over twice and topstitched. The bottom line of sewing is from this step, attaching the pocket to the main bag piece.

Now pick up one of your handles. Starting from the fold (center of the 40" side of the main bag piece), lay the handle on the main bag piece being sure that the handle is not twisted.

Pin the handle in place. The handle should cover about a 1/4" of each side of the pocket. The outer edge of the handle should be about 7.5" from each edge. The inner edges of the handle should be about 5" apart. I usually don't measure, just try to get the handle on reasonably straight.

Starting from the fold (bottom of the bag) sew the handle to the main bag fabric. (I like to backstitch a few stitches at the start.) Go up one side of the handle along the topstitching line, stop about 1/4" from the top edge of the bag. Leave your needle down and pivot to sew across the handle at the top to the other topstitching line. Again leave your needle down and pivot, then sew back down to the bottom of the bag again along the topstitching line. Leave your needle down and pivot, sew across the bottom of the handle. You should be back to where you started from sewing this part of the handle to the bag. Backstitch a few times. Now repeat for the other side of the handle.

Do this for the other side of the bag with the remaining pocket and handle. The handles should line up along the bottom of the bag.

Fold the bag half, right sides together (that is, the pockets should be on the inside). Pin the side edges and sew them with a 1/2" seam allowance. Backstitch at the top edge. You do not need to back stitch at the bottom because we will be boxing the corners.

If you have a serger, serging the raw edges is best. However, I don't have a serger. So I use the overlock stitch on my machine to mimic a serged edge. It is the #8 stitch on my BERNINA.

This is a pretty basic stitch and most newer machines (any brand) should come with this stitch. In the photo above, see the stitch diagram above the number 8 button. Look for this stitch on your machine. Do this stitch along both side edges of the bag.

Almost done, we just need to box the bottom.

Align one of the sewn side edges with the center fold which is the mark for the bottom of the bag. Pull out the corner so it looks like picture below.

With a ruler, measure in 2.5" from the corner and draw a line. If you have everything folded correctly, this line should measure 5". Pin the corner and sew directly on the drawn line, backstitching at both ends.

Do not cut off the corner! Repeat for the other bottom corner. Turn the bag right side out and enjoy!

Adding a lining would make a nice touch but for my purposes it would make the bag too expensive. Remember, I am giving these away. Adding a piece of fabric along the bottom, between the bottoms of the two pockets, would also jazz this up. But again, I'm trying to keep cost down so I didn't add this.

If you want to add this piece, you will need a 12.5" by 22" piece. Fold the 22" edges under 1/4" and press it in half. The pressed fold should match up with the fold in the canvas. You can attach this after you sew the bottom of the pockets to the main bag fabric. I would do this after I have also attached the handles, but you could also do it between attaching the pockets and the handles.

The finished size of the bag is approximately 16" wide by 16" high by 5" deep. A PDF version of this pattern (minus pictures) can be downloaded by clicking this link. This will be filed under the Tutorials tab on my blog so it will be easy for you to find again later.

Monday, April 28, 2014


The pattern winners are:

#14: Barb said...
Oh my gosh Batman, I love love those...... What a wonderful giveaway...the pattern will be so awesome to have will make great gifts.

#2: Gill said...
GFC follower!

#6: barbara woods said...
I follow and would love to win, thanks

The winners have all been contacted so check your email for your pattern. Thank you to everyone who entered. I am working on being able to sell this pattern as a PDF download through my LQS. I've got to figure out how that works first. You can purchase a paper copy of the pattern right now through my LQS, but you have to pay postage for it. Here is the link to the website for my LQS, Heartstrings and Heirlooms. Here is the direct link to my pattern, Pin Cushion Thread Catcher pattern.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Christmas Quilt Block 6

Halfway through! I guess that makes this the "hump block."

This one needs some buttons and embroidery too, but I've decided to wait until I have all the blocks appliqued and pieced before getting out the embellishments and embroidery thread.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Holy Blog Posts Batman! This is my 1000th post. I'm celebrating by having a giveaway. I've written a pattern for a pin cushion with an attached trash bag. Below you can see a photo of several I have made.

I am giving away three .pdf copies of the pattern. All you need to do is leave me a comment and make sure that I have a way to contact you if you win. Followers can have a second entry. Just leave a second comment stating that you are a follower. Letting me know how you follow would be nice, but not required. New followers are always welcome, but following is not a requirement to enter the drawing.

Since I will be emailing the winners their copies of the pattern, the giveaway is open to all, no matter where you live.

The giveaway is will remain open until Monday morning (USA Mountain Time) at which time I will close comments, let Mr. Random Number Generator choose the winners, then contact them and post them here.

Thanks to everyone who reads my little blog!

The winners have now been selected. To see who won, click here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stars and Scrappy Stripes Finished Top

Shew! Finally got this one to the finished top stage.

I love how it turned out!! It will finish at 45" by 54". I've put it in the stack of "things to be quilted."

I wrote a tutorial for this quilt. If you would like to make one you can find the tutorial by clicking the following link, Stars and Scrappy Stripes Tutorial. You can also find other tutorials I've written and a few written by others that I have bookmarked for myself by clicking on the tutorials tab at the top of this page.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Finish : Scraps of My Heart

My LQS, Heartstrings & Heirlooms, is having a quilt challenge. The theme is "My Favorite Things." The owner requested that employees have their quilts finished by May 1st. Below is my entry entitled "Scraps of My Heart."

This went together quickly because all of the fabrics used were scraps and already cut into squares.

So how does this fit the theme?

(1) Look closely and you will see that I fussy cut some of the fabrics to highlight some of my favorite things - quilts, flowers, sewing machine, cat, tea cup, numbers, polka dots/circles.

(2) Many of the fabrics themselves are favorites of mine.

(3) This was all made from scraps.

(4) The graphic/modern design of the quilt as a whole.

(5) The striped binding.

I also love being able to cross this project off my list ahead of schedule!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I've stitched up a quick quilt for a work related project. I'll share the whole quilt and the story behind it once it is finished. For now, this is the back and the binding.

The quilt isn't large enough to need all of this binding, but I bought a yard of this fabric to use specifically for binding. I figured that as long as I was making binding for this project, I'd go ahead and just make binding out of the entire yard. Now I have binding already finished for another, yet to be determined, quilt.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ready to Make the Blocks

My scrap group meets again this week. We are not starting a new project this month so that we all have time to make more progress on what we started last month.

It took a long time, but I finally finished all 240 sets of three strips I need. Half of those need to have the star points added to them.

The above units now all have their star points so I'm ready to sew these into blocks on Wednesday.

Once I get the top finished I will update the tutorial I did for this project to include a picture of the finished top.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Time to Get Busy

After completing my first of the remaining applique blocks for the commissioned Christmas quilt I'm doing (see this post and this post), I realized that I really need to invest in some thread for this project. So I got out my new Aurifil thread card, the remaining fabric kits for the blocks and placed an order. My order arrived earlier this week.

That is 25 small spools of thread. Here they are all lined up for a group photo.

Now it is time to get busy tracing, cutting and stitching.

And I can go back and fix a couple of the pieces on the snowman that I wasn't happy with. I know it isn't noticeable in the photo, but after living with it for a couple of weeks I'm not happy with a few of the thread colors I used on him and I need to fix it. My applique skills aren't good enough to hide the fact that I didn't have the correct color thread for stitching on those pieces. It won't take me long to remove and redo, then I can do the embroidery and finish him up.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quilts for Oncology

Our hospital has a full-time oncologist for the first time and a nice chemo office so oncology patients can get treatment here instead of having to travel outside the San Luis Valley for treatment. Within the last year I have been touched by cancer through three different people, my mom and two quilt guild members. One of the guild members is getting her treatment here and told us that they are using quilts donated by our guild members in the chemo office. These quilts stay at the hospital.

We got to talking at our recent retreat and decided to see if the oncology department could use more quilts. The answer was yes and no. The office itself has all the quilts it store/use at the moment, but they are interested in having quilts to give to patients to bring with them since most patients use more than one quilt at a time. They anticipate having more patients now that they have a full-time oncologist, like 5 to 10 new patients a month. So ... could we possibly provide them with 5 to 10 quilts a month?! And they would like to have a nice bag to put the quilts in along with some other things they give new patients (water bottle, chapstick, lotion, sunscreen, ....). The idea being that patients could carry their quilt plus some other stuff to and from their treatments.

I took it upon myself to come up with a size range for the quilts along with making up a bag pattern. After talking with some of the hospital staff as well as a chemo patient I determined that 40" to 50" wide and 50" to 60" long is the best size range. My Scrap Basket Churn Dash is 45" by 54". I finished it up last week.

It is simply quilted with an all-over loop pattern. For the back I used up the last of a tea cup print I really like.

The pattern for the Scrap Basket Churn Dash is from the Happy Zombie blog. Click here for the pattern.

For the bag I used some duck canvas and scraps from the front. Full disclosure, I had some yardage left over that I saved thinking I might use it for binding. I didn't use it for binding, but it worked out perfectly for the bag.

The tote is 16" by 16" by 5" deep and has two pockets. A good size for carrying a quilt plus a book, lunch, water bottle, wallet, etc.

I need to write up the pattern for the bag to pass out to guild members.

One quilt down! I have another finished quilt too. It needs a bag. I plan to take pictures while making the second bag to use for a tutorial that will complement the written pattern. I'll share the tutorial with you too in case you'd like to make a bag for yourself.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This and That

I did a little "functional" sewing last week. I hemmed a pair of pants for my husband. These are Boy Scout pants, the kind where the legs zip off so they can be worn as both pants or shorts. Being able to zip off the legs made this a bit easier.

Not a very exciting project, but he was very happy with them. I haven't hemmed a pair of pants in a while. It took a lot longer than I expected. The measuring and pinning took the most time. The sewing part went quick.

Last weekend was the annual Sewing & Quilting Expo in Pueblo, Colorado. I didn't get to go last year and was hoping to go this year. It didn't work out though. Instead, I ordered some fabric from Hawthorne Threads online. Some Mad Mend I've had my eye on for a few weeks.

Spooky absolutely insisted on being the picture! I took several and some part of her was in every one. At least you can see the fabric in this one.

I just love the scissor prints so I bought some of every color way. The thimbles also caught my eye. Instead of stashing all of this I'm trying to come up with a project to use at least some of this right away. We'll see how that goes.