Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Michelle: 1, Zippers: 0

Friends, I am pleased to present my latest finish, my first Sew Together Bag:

Honestly, it was no big deal. I wouldn’t recommend a new sewer try it—sew some easy-peasy totes first. But if you know your way around your machine and have a walking foot, you can do this. For some context, I’d say that it’s more complicated that the pouches and totes that I’ve blogged about thus far; it’s not even close to the complexity of the Amy Butler Cosmo Bag I made.

Still not convinced? Here are my responses to your best excuses not to try this pattern. : )

The pattern looks difficult!

No, the pattern isn’t difficult—but I sew my best with lots of visuals, and this pattern has few pictures or illustrations. Go to Quilt Barn’s Sew Together Bag sew-along for more step-by-step pics. It’s a sanity saver.

There are four zippers!

Based on advice from other sewists, I used thin strips (⅛” wide) of Pellon’s 805 Wonder-Under on the lining panels of the bag (B1, B2, B3, and B4) to adhere each panel to its corresponding zipper(s). (There are other comparable products that would work just as well; I happened to have Wonder-Under on hand.) Then I pinned the pocket lining on top of the lining panel and zipper. I thought everything stayed together well as I sewed.

There is so much fabric!

Yes, you have to sew through some bulky chunks to construct a Sew Together Bag. I used my walking foot throughout the process. (I did not use my zipper foot at all; I couldn’t get everything through my machine without my walking foot.) I also used size 14 or 16 needles. (I started with a 14 and moved to the 16 when I had to attach the side panels.) And I trimmed the interfacing on the lining panels (B1, B2, B3, and B4) smaller (8¾” x 9¼” instead of 8¾” x 9¾”), based on this advice, so that there would be one fewer layer in the side seams. I’m not sure whether it really helped, but I would do a second bag the same way.

My final take

The funny thing about the Sew Together Bag is people never make one. I think I know why. It goes together more easily than you think it will. And once you have a first under your belt, a second isn’t intimidating at all. Plus, there’s the novelty factor. It doesn’t look like other bags or pouches out there, and it makes a great gift. After all, what says “I love you” more than four zippers?!

A postscript on the fabrics: The exterior fabric is DS Quilts; the binding is Quilter’s Linen in garnet; the interior fabrics are Denyse Schmidt, Marcus Brothers, and Aunt Grace, some of which have been in my stash for longer than I care to admit.

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, Finish It Up Friday, and TGIFF ...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Winner and a Thank-You

The Sew Mama Sew giveaway has ended, and the winner of the collection of Aurafil thread is #338: Kat of Kat & Cat Quilts! Congratulations! We can’t wait to see the loveliness you sew up with all that new thread. : )

And I wanted to extend a big thank-you to everyone who entered and to those new followers who are giving From Bolt to Beauty a test-drive.

I knew that giving away a cool prize would be fun, but I didn’t foresee how much I’d enjoy reading the comments. I’m still working my way through them, having decided early on that I wanted to respond to each one. How could I resist? Hearing what everyone had to say about their expectations for the new year made me feel the same way I do when I leave a guild meeting: These are my people! I went so long without taking part in a sewing community. Now that I have crafty connections—both in person and online—I can’t imagine being without them.

One final thought: If you’re a blog reader who doesn’t comment on posts—whether here or elsewhere—can I make a recommendation? Start commenting. I lurked in the shadows of the blogosphere for years, thinking I was getting everything out of it that I could. But things changed when I began commenting. Truly, you have more insight and experience that is worth sharing than you think!

OK, I have a quilt to baste! Good luck with your holiday to-do list!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Plan B

For those of you who are new to my sewing adventures, my plans for Christmas crafting were modest:

•    Learn how to free-motion quilt
•    Put that new skill to use on two lap-size quilts
•    Make a Sew Together Bag (this is scary because it requires installing many zippers)

I’ve been experimenting with FMQ, and it’s going OK. I still haven’t found my groove yet, and I’ve decided that before I devote too much time to the task, I should invest in a new machine. I love my current Janome, but it is a home d├ęcor machine and not designed for quilters. I need something with more throat space and an extension table, all of which will help me become more proficient at FMQ. (I truly believe this—buying a new machine is not a procrastination ploy!)

As a result, I had to devise a plan B:

•    Buy a new machine (learn to FMQ in the new year)
•    Put off one quilt until I’m competent at FMQ; quilt the other with my walking foot
•    Make a Sew Together Bag (yup, still scary!)

The postponed quilt is for my sister. She would understand if I presented her with a pieced quilt top on Christmas day with an IOU for a finished quilt, but I thought she needed something tangible to tide her over. So I made her a Mini Miranda Bag.

Eep! I love it! It’s so darn pretty, don’t you think? I pulled the Amy Butler floral and the eggplant Quilter’s Linen from my stash; both were left over from my Cosmo Bag. I had the Clover handles on hand as well. (Bonus points for using my stash!) All I had to buy was the Kona Plum that’s visible as the faux binding at the top.

I recommend this pattern. It’s well written and thoroughly illustrated. Just use your walking foot to help your machine get through the layers. The only change I make is omitting the flap; I just think the bag looks better without it. This is my fifth Mini Miranda Bag, the second for my sister. (My fourth was blogged about here.)

Time is ticking. Just 15 more days until Christmas. I hope I can meet my new-and-improved goals! Have you had to revise your holiday to-do list, too?

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday, Finish It Up Friday, TGIFF at Quilt Matters, and Bag Brag Tuesday (for the first time!) ...

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