Saturday, February 7, 2015

Tote bag for QuiltCon - check!

About a month ago, I decided it was time to try my hand at more than just a lined tote bag. My normal purse is looking a little ratty, and I need something handmade for QuiltCon (well, it would be fun to carry something around!) so my make-it-up-as-I-go tote bag was born. We're talking real pockets, sort-of-scary interfacing (medium weight fusible and some thicker Shape Flex that I had on hand), boxed corners, and a recessed zipper (I've installed zippers many times but not like this). I could have followed a pattern, but after all of my garment sewing lately, I needed a break from following hard core instructions!

 Front - featuring some current favorite fabrics that mesh together well. Yes, I fussy cut the bird. :)

Back - I just love this purple print (surprise, surprise) from Rashida Coleman Hale - so much that it deserved complete tote-bag-back status and some graffiti quilting. I miss FMQing quilts!

 The whole thing matches my new Anna Maria Horner wallet made by Stephanie (a birthday present to myself)!

I started out with an x-plus block and added coordinating fabrics from there. I delved deep into my bag of Anna Maria Horner fabric (I literally have a gargantuan bag of AMH fabric separated from the rest of my stash - I'll take a picture sometime soon) and new Cotton and Steel. I also pulled out some scraps of Essex linen and went for it. I found this tutorial by My Spare Time the most helpful with the recessed zipper.

 Woot! Victory! It really wasn't bad.

I considered leaving the linen on each side unquilted, but visions of quilted peacock feathers kept bugging me. I used Renee's very thorough tutorial to quilt one on each side in purple thread. It begs a closer look in person. These kind are the only feathers I've ever quilted, lol - I like the look of them better than traditionally quilted feathers (at least for my own quilts/handmade goodies).

For the pockets, there's probably an easier way to do them, but this is what I did. I cut the fabric a little bigger than what I wanted, fused medium weight interfacing to the back, and sewed a coordinating piecing of fabric right sides together to the top, leaving an unsewn space. I flipped it inside out, pressed it flat, and topstitched the bottom where I left the space. Then, I just sewed three sides to the lining fabric before making the bag. Presto, a lined pocket.

I swear, this pocket is actually not lumpy like it looks!

This one fits my phone so I don't have to rifle through the bag looking for it. :)

It's true that some of my side seams are just a little off, and so is the zipper... but you know what? I'm proud of my bag and it's perfect for me! Next time, I'll make it a little wider (I only had a 12"zipper and was trying to use what I had). I'd also try to figure out a way to topstitch around the entire bag. I had to leave about an inch on each side (see below) because somehow the bulk of all the interfacing from the top and the zipper was too much for my (usually powerhorse) machine. Oh well.

I haven't made anything larger than a mini quilt since December (...say what?!), and I'm starting to get the itch. The Supernova Friendship Swap quilt deadline ends on Saturday 2/14 but I'm not sure I can fit it in with all my QuiltCon prep and guild meeting prep for this Tuesday. Ah. We'll see. Maybe I'll start it and see how far I get... nothing like a deadline to motivate you, right?

^That scary moment when you're flipping your bag right side out and it looks like you're destroying it instead.
Since I finished this yesterday (Friday), I'm linking up to TGIFF and Crazy Mom Quilts.



  1. Lovely tote bag... your fabric selection is spot on. I spy some of my favourite Cotton & Steel prints in there... the one with the View Master wheels just arrived at my house this week! Thanks for linking up with TGIFF.

    P.S. I'm very jealous of you QuiltCon goers! :)

  2. Hooray for using Renee's tutorial to add the lovely peacock feather quilting. I love having a pocket that is just right for my phone in my bags, too. Good luck with your new supernova quilt goal. You've got some time! :)

  3. The bag looks terrific and I want to see those peacock feathers in person!

  4. Wonderful job! I look forward to seeing this in Texas!

  5. First thing we will need to do at Quiltcon is carefully look over our wallets and find their unique traits so we don't get them mixed up, haha. I love that you fussy cut the bird! I don't think that quilting is "graffiti style" at all, and is actually a lot prettier (can you tell I'm not a fan of this new style, haha). You did a fantastic job on this bag, it really shows off your personality and quilting interests :-)

  6. It's very YOU. It will be a perfect introduction at Quilt Con. And what a brilliant pocket construction. I have to try it.

  7. Woo hoo for you and your quilty bag finish! (I have made tons of bags over the years but only quilted one of them. Can you believe it?) I can only wonder the goodies that this amazing bag will carry around in Austin!

  8. Well done; it looks very practical.

  9. It looks so great, the quilting on the back looks a lot like Zentagle doodles! I love love love the feathers, everything about this bag just screams "JESS!" You're going to have so much fun at Quiltcon :)

    Not that I'm an expert or anything, but random bag making tip that I've picked up, don't interface your seam allowances, so if you're making your bag 12 inches, leave 1/2" (standard bag seam allowance that I've come across) on each side un-interfaced. That should help with your top stitching problem.

  10. Awesome job, and another fantastic hand-made accomplishment to add to your suitcase for Austin! So exciting!!

  11. Something we can be proud of. And it won't be so hard, Cotton Tote Bags


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