Friday, March 20, 2015

New project

Even though I did not finish the repro quilt I decided to work on a new project. It is going to be an overnight bag. I have been wanting a cool overnight bag instead of the boring Nike duffle bag that I have. Here I have the pieces cut out and marked. The “circle” fabric is on the outside and the diamonds is the lining fabric. The gray is an accent piece for the outside of the bag.



Since this has to be quilted I decided to make a sample piece to see what kind of shrinkage there would be and how much larger to make the pieces to allow for that shrinkage.

I am only going to quilt across the piece in parallel lines to make sure that I get very little distortion in the pieces. Heavy quilting would certainly cause distortion. Of course the next problem is how to mark the lines without having markings to wash out. The answer? Blue painters tape.

I decided to quilt the lines 3/4 inch apart because I thought 1/2 was too close and 1 inch was too big of a spacing. Sometimes when I can’t decide about the spacing I pick the value in the middle.

In this photo I have the ruler on the previous stitching line and then I butt the blue tape against the ruler to mark the next stitching line which gives 3/4 inch spacing.



Here is the piece with the ruler removed and the blue tape in place and ready to stitch.







Here is my practice piece all stitched out. It did shrink a little from the original dimensions. Why is it that the lines are perfectly straight in the areas that blend more with the thread and not perfectly straight when the thread contrasts with the fabric?




Do you make bags at all?

I find that the directions for things like bags written by quilters are not the best directions. I come from a sewing background and use to sew lot of clothing, curtains, and Halloween costumes so I am used to the directions from companies like McCall's and Simplicity. They are much clearer directions. I had to read the directions for this bag about 6 times before I understood what I was supposed to do. The directions even had photos and still was vague in several places. They are not the directions that I would have written. I have written lab manuals for several of the classes that I used to teach so I know how to write directions.

Speaking of teaching I heard from a student yesterday that I had written a letter of recommendation for back in January. This is what she said:

I am writing to let you know I finally got my letter from CU Boulder and I was accepted. Thanks for writing my recommendation letter and being a great and engaging teacher of astronomy. I signed up for the course because I thought it would be very interesting and cool and you definitely made it so.

So you see why sometimes I miss teaching. Well back to bag making. Linking to Off the Wall Friday.

Thanks for reading.



  1. I do make bags. Some designers' directions are hard to follow. I have not had problems with Lazy Girl designs though. That is going to be a really pretty bag. Are you going to do anything on the bottom to make it "dirt proof"? I am thinking of using a iron-on plastic for the bottom of my next one. A friend always uses a dark color/print for hers. I think I want something I can wash/wipe down (thinking of it sitting on the floor).
    The note from your student was a very nice compliment. Teachers make a lasting impression on so many; good to hear her appreciation of your work.
    NancyB in AZ

  2. Yep, I've made bags and run into not so complete directions. I'm suppose to be starting The Professional Tote for my dil. Two friends have made it and say directions are excellent.

    If you want a little teaching look into online teaching. Hubby does some for Univ. Of Phoenix. It seems to engage him but he wonders about the skill sets of some of the students.

  3. Clever tip, using masking tape for guidelines. I used that quite a bit during my hand quilting days but have rarely used it for machine quilting for some reason. Maybe because I was working on larger quilts where the lines were longer, too long really to mark with tape. Or had seamlines to follow with either the width of the foot or the bar accessory. Murphy's Law I guess regarding the perfection of stitches hidden vs the wobbling of those in plain sight - lol.

    I've made a few bags and have bought a lot of patterns for bags and totes. I too cannot believe what some of these designers get away with in their lack of clarity in explaining the steps. I too come from a clothing construction background using those pattern companies. Even with that experience, there have been times I could not figure out what the designer of said bag or vest intended me to do - like whole steps skipped as if we would intuitively know what to do. I always think, well if I can't figure it out with my experience, how in the heck will someone with NO clothing construction experience figure it out? No wonder so many quilters get frustrated and give up, thinking it is they who are lacking, not the instructions. Yes, one of my personal pet peeves. I too write very explicit instructions whenever I am faced with teaching something - it's just the thing to do if you are conscientious and know your stuff.

    Your story of the student letter reminds me of my mother who taught Latin for many years. Nothing pleased her more than to receive one of those thank you's from a student who realized how much they had actually learned once they moved on to college and how it even gave them an edge they didn't think about while taking the class. She took a lot of flack in the classroom but persevered, and these letters of recognition and thanks were her reward.


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