Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nautical Weekender Bag

 There is some sort of weird phenomenon that I have encountered while making the Amy Butler Weekender Bag. It has happened to me each of the three times I have made it now. I go from thinking one moment- "Why in the world did I start making this bag... I feel like chucking it across the room!!" to the next moment when I am all finished, thinking- "Oh, I love it so much that I want to make another!". Don't get me wrong... I am totally in love with this pattern! It is very well written and produces the the most awesome bag ever (in my opinion), but there are just a couple steps to making this bag that are tricky and at times frustrating that cause the near "tossing it across the room" feeling.
After making my second weekender as a gift for my mom in law's birthday (and getting that crazy impulse I mentioned to make another), I knew that I wanted to make one for my mom's birthday... annnd... their birthdays happen to be only 10 days apart. So after the madness of putting one together in 2 days, I took a more leisurely pace and made the third bag in 4 days. (can you hear/read my sarcasm?! What in the world was I thinking making these bags with such a short time frame?! Stressful!) Luckily my husband was super dad for about a week and made dinners, cleaned up the house, and put kids to bed- all while doing his normal husbandly duties so that I could sew for all hours of the night to make the bags. Being the awesome guy he is, he did everything with a smile and was totally happy to help out so that we could give our moms something that they really loved this year. What a guy... always reminding me of just how lucky I am to be married to him!

Alright... back to the bag.... :)
 Without further adieu... Meet my mom's weekender bag. I am kind of smitten with it. My true love for my mom was tested when I put this baby in the mail and said "Bon Voyage" without a second glance. Ok... let's be honest... there may have been a second glance. It's my favorite weekender I have made thus far, but the true daughterly love won out and off it sailed to Utah and it's happy new owner.
It couldn't have gone to a better home. Like I, my mom has a huge love for navy + white and all things nautical. She absolutely loved it! Score! It's always nice after spending a large chunk of time on a handmade gift to see that it is appreciated.
 I really love how all the fabrics came together! I used Premier Prints Anchor Slub in Navy for the main panels of the bag and Premier Prints Stripe Slub in Navy for the top and base panels. 
For the patchwork portion of the bag I used a combo of a few prints- some of my favorites are: Anchors away in NavyAnchors Indigo ChambrayShips Indigo ChanbrayBridgetown in Navy, and some navy and white stripes and polkadot fabric I had in my stash.
 I started out with the plan of using strictly navy and white for the bag... but after a quick poll on instagram, I decided to use some Free Spirit Tango solid for a pop of color with the piping and Red and Yellow Moda Crossweave for the handles (it's slightly heavier weight and worked well- plus the color was almost and exact match to the tango solid).
One of the biggest changes I made with this bag that was different from Bag #1 and Bag #2 is that I went with a plastic zipper as opposed to the metal upholstery zippers I used on the first two. Oh my goodness... I love the plastic zipper so much! (I had a bit of scare on bag #2 and put the zipper in only to find out that it was not working the greatest! Biggest bummer ever! Waxed the zipper which helped but still not the ease I was hoping for). 
I ordered this plastic zipper and plan on using plastic on any future weekenders (again... they have some sort of spell over me!). The only downfall to the plastic is that it IS separating so I had to make a slight adjustment and stitch it closed  which was a bit different than my other bags- but no biggie and totally worth the trouble because it slides open and shut like a dream!
 While I was hand stitching the lining into this third weekender, I told my husband that I was "not making another weekender for a very very long time- if ever!" 
2 weekenders in a week and a half was a bit much for myself and the family- but you do what you gotta do in a time crunch, right?
But do ya wanna hear the crazy thing?! I just started a 4th weekender. 
I know- I know... someone needs to admit me to a  Weekender Bags anonymous support group! 
Don't worry though... No more 2 day (or even 4 day) weekender bag projects for me! I am taking my sweet time on this one and things are back to normal with my household- thank goodness!

Anyone else have the Weekender Bug? We can all thank Elizabeth of Oh, Fransson! for introducing us to her amazing weekender and starting the QAYG Weekender craze! Check out these beauties in the Flickr group. ;)

Happy Sewing! 
xoxo, Ashley

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Make a Halloween Trick or Treat Bag

A couple weeks ago I was invited to share a fun Halloween project in the Spooktacular September series over at the darling eighteen25 blog. It was the perfect motivation to make some trick or treat bags for my girls with some ideas that had been floating around in my head!
The ideas started brewing a few months back when I came across a preview for this darling fabric line by Maude Ashbury called Spooktackular. I fell in love with this awesome print (witches brew) and ordered a bit of it as soon as it came out.
I wanted my bags to be simple, but with a bit of a twist. I made two versions... a big and a small- one  simple and one with a bit more detail to it and I love how they each turned out. 
I will be sharing my simplified version in a step by step tutorial below, but I thought I would share how I did the quilted version in a couple pictures in case you are wanting to make something simiar- if not scroll down to the simple Halloween bag tutorial....

To start, I decided I wanted to try my hand at making my own foundation paper piecing pattern. (In case you are new to foundation paper piecing- here is a great video that teaches how to do it.) I cut a piece of freezer paper to be the size I wanted for the front of my bag (I made mine 12x15 inches). (I used freezer paper because it was the largest paper I had on hand but you could use any paper you would like.) Then I used a pencil and drew out a spider web-ish design on the paper. As you can see, it was a bit of trial and error with my design... I erased lots of lines that simply weren't working with the design- which is why I recommend using a pencil. It doesn't have to be perfect... the paper is just a guide for where to sew. I looked at my pattern when I was all done and numbered the areas by where I would need to start and end and then I was ready to start sewing...
 When I finished sewing scraps to my template, I ripped away the paper on the back side and was ready to make the rest of the bag... You will just quilt it as desired with a scrap of batting and the coordinating lining piece to make a quilt sandwich and then follow the rest of the steps in the tutorial below... 

Simple Halloween Trick of Treat Bag Tutorial
Ok... Lets start with your supplies.
-1/2 yard fabric for the outside of your bag
-1/2 yard of contrasting fabric for the inside of your bag + handles
(optional: I used a scrap of fabric for the handles, but there is plenty of spare fabric from your contrasting fabric for you to use for this purpose if you would rather.)
-1 package of 1/2 inch double fold bias tape or make a few yards of your own
1/2 yard fusible fleece or scraps of batting if you will be quilting your bag
You can make this trick or treat bag any size you would like... I made a square and rectangle version.
For this tutorial I will be showing pictures of the square version but it would be very easy to change the measurements and make your own size.

To cut your fabric you will need to cut:
12 x 12 inch main panels - 2 from the main fabric and 2 contrasting fabric
4 x 12 inch side and base panels - 3 from the main fabric and 3 from the contrasting fabric
5 x 12 inch handles - cut 2 of whichever fabric you would like
fusible fleece - cut two 12 x 12 inch main panels and 3- 4 x 12 panels
Step 1: Apply the fusible fleece to all of the main fabric panels (you do not need to apply it to the panels to your lining)

Step 2: I made two versions of the bag- one quilted and one not quilted. I like the quilted one better but you can make either option. Take each of your pattern pieces and line up each one with it's coordinating lining piece. They should all be wrong sides together. You will now make each one a unit... So you can either quilt each piece as desired or you can baste each of your pieces together with basting stitch. To baste them you will take your pieces- for example: to create the front of your bag you would take one main panel piece and one of the main lining pieces and put them wrong sides together and sew around each of the 4 sides with a 1/4 seam allowance using your longest stitch length on your machine. This will hold your pieces together so it is easier to get things all lined up.  Repeat for each of your pattern pieces... In the end you should have 5 units: 2 main panels, 2 side panels and 1 bottom panel. 

Step 3: Make your handles. I made handles two ways- one with fusible fleece (pictured) and one without and I prefer the one without, but you can do whichever option you prefer. Take one of your handle panels and fold and press it in half with the wrong sides together. Open up and fold raw edges in to the center fold and press. (At this point you can add a 1 inch strip of fusible fleece if you would like)  Unfold again and tuck the short raw edges on each end in about a half inch and press and then fold back into fourths and press well. Now your strap should be folded into 4 with the raw edges inclosed. Top stitch around all the edges to create one handle. Repeat to create second handle. 
Step 4: Attach your handles to your main panel units. I measured and pinned each of the handles to the main panels and sewed a 1 inch square on each side of the base of the handles to secure it to the bag. Be sure when doing this step that you place your handles at least 1 1/2 inch down so that you still have enough room at the top to sew your 1/2 inch bias tape on. (I placed my handles 3 inches from the side and 1 1/2 inch down from the top of the bag- then that 1 inch square of stitches was in an area free of where I needed to sew my bias tape on.)
Step 5: Assemble your bag. You are going to be putting your bag together opposite of how you normally would... you are going to sew it so that the seams are exposed on the exterior of your bag so that you can apply bias tape to finish off the exposed seams. So start by sewing your two side panels to one of the main panels. You will pin them so the lining is together. Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. After the sides are attached to one main panel, attach to the other main panel. 
Step 6: Apply bias tape to your exposed seams. Here is a great tutorial if you need help doing that. Be sure to do the proper way of sewing on bias tape so that you have a nice finish and accurately enclose those exposed seams .
Step 7: Pin and sew the base of your bag on. This step will be slightly awkward... Hang in there! ;) The bias tape corners are thick and tricky to get through so sew slowly.
Step 8: Apply bias tape to the base of your bag as well as the top of your bag to finish off any exposed seams... It is slightly awkward once more to sew over those corners that already have bias tape applied. Just go slow and be patient... It will be over soon! 
I found it easiest to machine stitch the bias tape to the exterior of the bag and then whip stitch the other side of the bias tape (like you would a quilt binding) to insure that you have  a nice finish and no stray looking stitches... So for the top I machine stitched on the outside of the bag and then folded the bias tape over and whip stitched it to the lining and for the bottom of the bag I machine stitched to the "top" side of the bag and then whip stitched it to the bottom where the bag sits. 

That's it... you have a finished trick or treat bag just in time for Halloween! 

Happy Sewing!
xoxo, Ashley

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quilted Weekender Bag #2

Well it only took me one year to forget the woes of making my very first weekender bag
Last week I braved the infamous pattern for the second time to make a birthday gift for my mom in law... The second time went so much smoother! I think just knowing that I had made it before made it less overwhelming, plus I had another year of sewing experience under my belt- which makes a huge difference when you have only been sewing 2 1/2 years! ;)

I opted to only do quilt as you go patchwork panels for the pocket panels of the bag which took considerably less time than the first time I made it with all the panels being patchwork. I did however quilt both main and zipper panels to give it a uniformly quilted look. For everything else, I made it just like my last weekender bag- you can check out this post for all of the details on the changes I made to the pattern!

I tried really hard to pick out fabrics that reminded me of my mom in law and I feel like the overall effect of the bag really fits her personality perfectly. I love the way it turned out! The fabric that I used for the main panel (Alexander Henry Sew Now!) is just busy enough to make everything tie together in a crazy combination of colors that compliments the patchwork just right. That ruler on the zipper panel is just darling- don't ya think?! I love it!

Most importantly, my mom in law really loved it- which made all of the work that went into it totally worth it! She used it as her carry-on for the flight home after her visit out to see us. (I use mine as a carry-on every time I fly and it is just the right size for all of the stuff I need to entertain my kiddos on the flight!)

So since the 2nd one went so smooth- third times a charm right?! I started another today! Head over to my instagram to check out the darling fabric I am using on this one!! 

Happy Sewing!
xoxo, Ashley