Friday, February 15, 2019

My B&C Gypsy Wife / Beauties Pageant 20

Here are a handful of many filler blocks for this project.

Soon after I started blogging, Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife pattern became all the rage. This reaction was merited: Jen’s design is beautiful, and the bohemian feel of her original Gypsy Wife is unlike anything I had seen.

But this pattern also had a reputation. The instructions were difficult to follow, and I knew multiple quilters personally who had started a Gypsy Wife and abandoned it before finishing. Plus, it’s a big project—only a special few make more than one!—and the idea of embarking on the quilt top, let along quilting it, intimidated me.

Last month, however, Rachel Hauser (Stitched in Color) and Kelli Heath (Scrappy Violet) teamed up to host the 2019 Gypsy Wife quilt-along. I thought that the event would give me the structure I needed to complete this quilt for myself.

I decided to make an airy version of Jen’s pattern. For the blocks themselves, I am digging into my Bonnie and Camille stash, focusing on fabrics in pink, red, aqua, green, and navy. I have yet to settle on a plan for the background stripes, but I’m thinking of sewing a combination of small geometrics (maybe dots?) in neutral colors, like cream and gray. Of course, I will also use a good dose of my favorite neutral, Kona Snow.

These are the four feature blocks I completed in January.
These are four more filler blocks.
Yup, more filler blocks!

So far February has provided no time to work on this quilt, but I have high hopes that will change—after all, the month is just halfway over. ; )

Those of you with a finish to share, now’s the time. (And if you have a finished Gypsy Wife, no matter how old, we would love to see it here!) Post your project to this week’s Beauties Pageant!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Sew-Along: Schedule and Supplies

Last month I announced that I would be hosting a sew-along for the Cargo Duffle Bag, a pattern by Anna Graham of Noodlehead that’s available free on the Robert Kaufman website. Today I have more details for you, including the schedule and my thoughts on collecting the needed supplies.


The Cargo Duffle Bag will take you several hours to complete; it’s doable in a single weekend. The sew-along breaks the process down into six days of instruction over the course of two weeks and then gives you two additional weeks to finish your project and enter the linky to be eligible for prizes. Even if you don’t start right on March 4, there’s time built in to catch up ...

Monday, March 4: Cutting the Pattern Pieces

Tuesday, March 5: Making the Cargo Pockets

Thursday, March 7: Quilting and Assembling the Exterior Panels

Monday, March 11: Making the Gusset, Tabs, and Handles

Tuesday, March 12: Assembling the Bag and Installing the Snaps

Thursday, March 14: Lining the Bag

Monday, March 18: Linky opens

Sunday, March 31: Linky closes

Prize winners will be announced the week of April 1.

Please note: As I make my Cargo Duffle, I alter the pattern by adding tabs at either end of my zipper, to aid in opening and closing it, and by lining my duffle instead of binding the raw interior edges. These changes affect the materials list, as noted below.



In my opinion, the most difficult part of bag making is finding the needed hardware! This has gotten easier as I now can find almost anything online, but I still purchase my hardware first and then match my fabric to it.

Luckily, the required zipper and snaps for the Cargo Duffle are readily found at big-box craft stores. I bought my 26-inch coverall zipper, for example, at Joann. It comes in two colors—black and dogwood—with brass teeth. Either one matches Dritz’s #5/size 24 snaps in gold, also available for purchase as Joann.

There are two options for installing your snaps. You can buy pliers to do the job, but they are over $30 a set. I use the less fancy tool here.

Anna herself offers a limited selection of bag hardware on her site. She offers a metal spring snap starter kit, which is cool because it contains four snaps in each of three finishes. As of this posting on February 13, however, it is out of stock and expected to be available sometime in March.


The Cargo Duffle Bag is designed for quilting cotton. You will be layering that fabric with batting and canvas, so your bag will have nice structure in the end. I have used a home dec denim-linen blend as my bottom gusset and exterior bottom accent in each of my four Cargo Duffle Bags because I really love the color and look of it. I wouldn’t say my finished product is any sturdier as a result, though.

The fun thing about bag making is that you can use fabric you might not put in a quilt. A large-scale design that would be unrecognizable cut into little bits and sewn in a quilt can be enjoyed in all its glory on a bag. My first two Cargo Duffles used Amy Butler fabric for that very reason—I loved those fabrics but couldn’t find a quilt project to use them in. My third Cargo Duffle used a print from Denyse Schmidt created for chain stores. Since it wasn’t a quilt-shop-quality fabric, I would hesitate to use it in something that would be washed over and over again, but it was perfect for a bag that would only be spot-cleaned now and again.

I have also used a home dec print for the main exterior fabric. This worked well. It did affect how I constructed my handles, however. If you choose to use a home dec fabric, I suggest you hold off on cutting your fabric for the handles until March 11, when we will look at that step in greater detail.


I have lined each of my Cargo Duffle Bags instead of binding the raw interior edges, as the pattern recommends. It’s not a perfect solution, but I like it. If you choose to follow my lead, this will affect your materials list:
  • You’ll need a yard of fabric for the lining. (This assumes a 44-inch width of fabric. If you’re a careful cutter, you can get away with three quarters of a yard.) I recommend a quilting cotton. Something with a soft hand, like Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture or an Art Gallery fabric, would be especially nice, but any quilting cotton will work fine. 
  • You’ll still need a yard of cotton canvas, but the color of it is less important because it will be mostly hidden by the added lining. (You can see my natural canvas just peeking out in the picture below.)
  • You will not need the quarter yard of double-fold binding.  

Zipper Tabs

I also add what I am calling “zipper tabs” to each end of my zipper gusset. I think they make opening and closing the zipper easier. If you also want to add these to your bag, you’ll need a scrap of quilting cotton that is at least 4 inches by 7 inches.


In addition to the size 16 needle and walking foot that Anna recommends in the pattern, I suggest you have the following on hand:
  • Starch—My top-stitching is neater when I sew well-starched pieces. (I will clue you in on when I use starch in the individual steps of the bag-making process.)
  • Clover Wonder Clips—If you haven’t used Wonder Clips in your quilt making, buy some. They’re essential for keeping bulky layers together while sewing bags, and they’re pretty kick-ass for sewing down your quilt bindings, too. A small package will suffice.
  • Water-soluble pen—Any one that can be removed with a spritz of water will do.
If you own a Clover Hera marker, have that on hand, too. I wouldn’t buy one specifically for this project, though. Another optional notion is Steam-A-Steam 2 in the quarter-inch size. This is double-stick fusible tape that I use to install zippers. (You could always wait until March 11, when we will be installing the zipper, to see whether you want to try my method or not.)

If you have questions about the schedule or materials list or if you have suggestions for other sew-along participants as they gather their supplies, please add them in the comments below. Document your experience making this pattern by using the hashtag #cargodufflebagsewalong on Instagram. Thanks! 

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Pageant Highlight Reel / Beauties Pageant 19

I can’t recall the last time I could say this, but for the past week, I haven’t so much as touched my machine. It seems like a good day, then, to indulge in a look back at finishes friends have shared in the past few Beauties Pageants.

Here are four of my favorites ...

Cynthia over at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework is the queen of scraps. Her postage stamp quilt is testimony to that. Click through to her site to see her quilting up close and personal.

Jayne, of Twiggy and Opal, also tackled a scrap project recently. I love how the disparate prints she uses are brought together by those repeating white circles. This one is going on my to-do list!

Anja, of Anja Quilts, kicked some free-motion-quilting butt on her latest pillow. The front is beautiful, but you need to click through to really appreciate her wishbone FMQ.

And Alison, who blogs at Little Bunny Quilts, turned the traditional churn dash block on its head with her Dashing to the Chapel pattern.

How about you? Did the past week provide the time to finish a project? Now’s your chance to tell us about it! (No judgment if you’re like me and need to live vicariously through other sewists’ work today.)

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Mice to Go with Those Cats / Beauties Pageant 18

What’s cuter than a Cargo Duffle Bag that’s covered in cat faces?

A Cargo Duffle Bag that’s covered in cat faces and accompanied by a coordinating pouch adorned with silly mice.

Today’s finish is an addendum to yesterday’s project. It’s a pouch I have made before. You can read the specifics, including how I transform pouches like this one into toiletry bags, here.

There’s not much more to say about these mice, other than a little part of me died inside when I took a rotary blade to them. I have just scraps of these brown mice left. The fact that the same print can be found in both peach and mint in my stash doesn’t lessen the blow.

What’s the precious fabric in your stash? (Obviously, my heart belongs to Lizzy House’s long out-of-print Catnap line!) And how are things on your sewing table? Please share any recent finishes with us in this week’s pageant ...

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Two January Finishes and a February Goal

I can’t wait to return to all this scrappiness!

January has been blissfully quiet around my house. I have had my share of commitments, but it all has been manageable in the wake of the holiday chaos. I’ve even made some good progress on a bunch of projects and met my One Monthly Goal for January: finishing two Cargo Duffle Bags. Yahoo!

A Second Finish

I blogged about the first completed bag here. I installed the snaps on the second just minutes ago, found an acceptably well-lit spot to take pictures, and am ready to share it with the world ...

This is my fourth Cargo Duffle. Pattern by Noodlehead.

I am very pleased with how this bag, made for my niece, turned out. My love for this little girl is evident in my use of the beloved Lizzy House Catnap print on the exterior. I don’t cut up yardage like that for just anyone, you know.

The Upcoming Sew-Along

The most exciting part about these finishes is that they’ve convinced me to hold a sew-along to encourage you to make your own Cargo Duffle. If you’re a quilter who’s scared of three-dimensional projects, this sew-along is for you!

I took a bunch of pictures as I sewed up those Lizzy House cats, jotting down notes on how I approach the pattern and why at times I veer from it. This is an opportunity to get in my brain and understand why I do what I do when making a bag.

The schedule details as well as my thoughts on the materials list will post on February 11. The sew-along itself will launch on March 4. Now, this pattern is no quilt. I consider it a weekend project. Despite that, posts about constructing a Cargo Duffle will span two weeks, and the subsequent linky will be open for two weeks. Read that as: There will be plenty of time to play catch-up if you’re not ready to sew on March 4.

My February Goal

Here I am explaining how great and productive January has been, but February is breathing down my neck. There is a bunch of stuff going on with me and my family next month, the thought of which makes me want to curl up in fetal position. Plus, I’m headed to Nashville for QuiltCon, and although I’m super excited about that, there’s planning and packing and preparing to be done. So far, I have done nothing. (Insert deep-breathing exercise here.)

I figure the most I can do at my machine is make headway on a scrappy, stringy project I started a few weeks back. Simple, mindless sewing will be just what I need to escape from February’s demands. And I’m only shooting to finish the flimsy as my goal. Basting and quilting can wait until March. : )

Here’s a little preview. It’s the Valentine pattern from Elizabeth Hartman’s first book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork . . .

These jewel tones are a departure from my usual palettes!

How is January wrapping up for you? Did you start the new year as I did, at top speed?! I will have to hit the breaks in February, but the productivity streak has been fun while it’s lasted

To join the goal-making fun over at Elm Street Quilts, go to the February goal-setting link-up!

Linking up to Main Crush Monday and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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Friday, January 25, 2019

You, Too, Can Sew an Awesome Bag / Beauties Pageant 17

I made this bag!

I’ve noticed an interesting trend among quilters. Many of them exclusively sew quilts and consider anything three-dimensional to be beyond their skill set. I am here today, my friends, to tell you that’s not true. Your experiences making quilts put you in a great position to sew, say, a Cargo Duffle Bag. Why? Consider this …

Fact: You can follow a pattern with ease.

You’ve followed quilt patterns before (some of you have even written them!). Sure, bag making might require learning new terminology, but with some help, you can decode pattern instructions and create something both beautiful and practical.

And I made this bag!

Fact: You can sew with precision.

You’ve got the quarter-inch seam down pat. The half-inch seam, called for by many bag patterns, is easily within your reach. And the same attention to detail that has served you well when piecing with precision or quilting everything from straight lines to free-motion motives has prepared you to top-stitch beautiful detailing on a bag project.

Fact: You’ve got the equipment and know how to use it.

I wish that when I first started sewing bags I knew what a walking foot was because it’s the bag maker’s secret weapon for sewing through lots of bulk. You already have a walking foot and know how to use it. Now is the time to learn what else you can do with it.

Oh yes, I  made this bag, too!

Are you convinced yet? If you are ready to make the leap, I am holding a sew-along later this winter. We’ll be sewing a Cargo Duffle Bag together (this Noodlehead pattern is free from Robert Kaufman). There will be lots of in-progress photos and tips from me during this sew-along about how I get great results. More details about the schedule and prizes (because quilters who take risks sewing three-dimensionally deserve prizes!) will be posted in February. The sew-along itself will run in March.

This project is not for new sewists. But if you already know your machine, have created lovely quilts, and are ready for something new, this sew-along is for you!

In the meantime, let me celebrate your latest finishes with you. Share them in this week’s Brag About Your Beauties Pageant. : )

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

One Cargo Duffle Down, One to Go / Beauties Pageant 16

This is me getting fancy with my photo shoots.

We’re halfway through January, and I’m pleased to report that I’m halfway to meeting my One Monthly Goal! I survived sewing my third Cargo Duffle Bag. Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Installing the zipper, hammering the snaps, sewing through all those layers—in the end, it was all doable. And that is good, because January’s goal was to make two of them. One down, one to go!

Previous posts have covered my thoughts on this free pattern by Anna Graham, of Noodlehead, so I’ll just inundate you with pretty pictures of this latest finish. (To read about my first bag, click here. To read about my second, including details on how I modified the pattern, click here.)

I used a Denyse Schmidt print for the exterior and a Carolyn Friedlander print
for the accents.

I love how the straps are constructed!

This little bit (is there a technical term for it?) is my own addition, to aid in
opening and closing the zipper.

I chose to line this bag instead of binding the unfinished edges, per the pattern.
Another Denyse Schmidt print adorns the lining of both the main compartment 
and the exterior pockets.

I’m hoping you have some pretty pictures of finishes to show with us, too. Add them to this week’s Brag About Your Beauties Pageant. : )

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 Finish-A-Long: Q1 Goals

I started 2019 with a lot of projects on my to-do list, probably enough to get me through the entire year. The sheer number of them convinced me to commit to two goal-setting programs.

I started by choosing my One Monthly Goal for January: to make two Cargo Duffle Bags. Now I am signing up for the Finish-A-Long, hosted by a group of bloggers. This is a quarterly program and the first finishes linky opens in April, so I can dream a little bigger.

This is what I’ll be focusing on for the FAL ...

Jane Market Bags

I need to make 11 Jane Market Bags for my kids’ teachers’ end-of-school gifts, and I don’t want to be scurrying around in June trying to finish them. I have 6 done, 5 more to go. I have made this pattern many, many times before, so it’s really just a matter of finding the time to sew these up. (Type “Jane” into the search box on the right to read more about my past versions, including the one pictured above.)

Garden Plots Quilt

I finished my Garden Plot flimsy back in November. It’s one of those projects that is not urgent; there’s no intended recipient. But for it to get finished, I have to make it a priority at some point. I plan on splurging and buying mint-colored fabric for the back, and then I’ll to rent the longarm at my LQS to quilt an allover pantograph on it.

Longitude Quilt

My Longitude Quilt, started at a workshop with Latifah Saafir in November 2017, is my oldest WIP. The main reason this has lingered so long is that I don’t have enough of the background fabric and my attempts to come up with an alternative have fallen flat. But first quarter 2019 is this project’s day in the sun! I’ve even already decided to quilt it with straight lines on my Janome 1600P-QC. (It’s been a few months since “the other man” and I have quilted a big project together.)

Valentine Quilt

A friend recently moved into a new place. I offered to make her a quilt, and she expressed a fondness for blues and greens. I homed in on Elizabeth Hartman’s Valentine pattern, from her book The Practical Guide to Patchwork, and started culling through my scraps and stash. This is another quilt I have decided to longarm with a pantograph, making it more feasible that I’ll meet the April FAL deadline.

Oh, dear. Now that that’s all written and up for public consumption it seems like a lot of goals for a little chunk of time. Thanks, in advance, for rooting me on!

What do the next few months look like for you? Share a goal or two in the comment below.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Fabric-Diet Update / Beauties Pageant 15

If you heard a loud thump about December 26 or 27 of last year, that was me, falling off the fabric-diet wagon and landing hard in the middle of some end-of-year fabric sales. It happens to the best of us, I guess.

My purchases were not frivolous, however. I have plans for (almost) everything I bought.

I’ve already declared 2019 as the Year of the Christmas Runner, and this wintery fabric will go toward making upwards of a dozen runners for holiday giving. I’m striving for easy piecing—disappearing nine patches, rail fence blocks, even simple patchwork—to allow the pretty fabric designs to be the star.

Return to Winter’s Lane by Kate and Birdie

Vintage Holiday by Bonnie and Camille

Juniper by Basic Grey

I’m also starting on a quilt for a friend who is a school librarian. That overdue fabric (below), from Heather Givans, will work well as the back of the design I have picked out. Hmm ... it may even set the palette for the quilt top. We’ll see.

In that last pic, you’ll also see butterflies. They were included in my shopping cart simply because I have a thing butterflies. (And ladybugs. And butterflies and ladybugs in the same fabric design.) Every good fabric splurge needs a just-because purchase or two, right?

I know, I know … I had been so good at keeping my fabric acquisition to a minimum that I can hardly be at fault. The real culprits here are Cobblestone Quilts, I Love Fabric, and Lou Lou’s Fabric Shop. : )

What have you been up to this week? Share your finishes in this week’s linky ...

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You / Beauties Pageant 14

Honestly, I don’t want to be writing a blog post right now. For that matter, I don’t want to be cleaning bathrooms, starting on dinner, or folding laundry. I want to be sewing!

My Christmas deadlines—little pouches, a medallion quilt, and a scrappy kitty quilt—kicked my butt, and I am determined not to repeat the last-minute crafting anytime soon. So I spent the weekend prepping 13 bags, some for winter gift giving, most for end-of-year teacher thank-yous. These projects will be smooth sailing. I know this because I’ve made both patterns before.

First up: two Cargo Duffle Bags (free pattern by Anna Graham). Assembling the final bags can be a bear because it requires sewing through many thick layers, but I have my walking foot and a size 16 needle on hand. Bring. It. On!

I made this Cargo Duffle two years ago for a friend.

Second up: 11 Jane Market Bags. This pattern by Alicia Paulson is busting a bunch of the half-yard cuts I have on hand. After this batch is finished, I can say that I’ve made well over 50 Jane Market Bags. For real. (I lost an accurate count once I hit 23 or 24, years ago.)

This batch of Jane Market Bags went to the staff of my old local quilt shop.

So expect to see bags—many bags!—on these pages in the near future.

Update: OK. I am committing to finishing those Cargo Duffle Bags by the end of January, for my first foray into the One Monthly Goal linkup, hosted by Elm Street Quilts!

It’s time for another Beauties Pageant, and I’m pleased to say that I found a workaround: We’re back to submitting text links that don’t require any kind of registration. I’m not sure how long inLinkz will allow me to skirt the latest-and-greatest version, but for those of you who hesitated to create yet another online account (and, man, I’m with you on that), you’re in luck for the time being.

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

Follow on Bloglovin