Saturday, June 6, 2009

Quiting a tote bag

Everyone I know back home still goes to the grocery store without their reusable bag! Although I'm guilty of doing this out of forgetfulness, I don't actually think that most of my family/friends have any reusable grocery bags. I had this grand idea that I could quilt cute reusable grocery bags for family and friends and use them as gifts.

After spending a significant amount of time, money, and brain power on my first tote bag, I decided that maybe these are best used for carrying a few extra things to work every day, rather than for frozen peas and such. Besides the fact that they may be too classy to be a grocery bag, I just don't think they are big enough. I'll try a larger, simpler, cheaper grocery bag another time.

I decided to pick up quilting this spring after hand-sewing my boyfriend Dave a padded computer holder for his netbook from an old pair of flannel pajama pants that doubles as a pillow during sleepy plane rides, as well as some curtains from sheets. It was so much fun, I wanted to find a more efficient way to create things and invested in a cheap, ~$100, sewing machine. It is a Singer Prelude and I found it at Joann Fabrics online during a sale (thus far, no complaints!).

Here is my first bag, which I made for my mom's birthday in April. She loves it and uses it for carting around large things from place to place that just don't ordinarily fit into a purse.
Unfortunately, my pictures of this first piece of mine are all taken in the back seat of my car outside of the post office when I realized I wanted to document this first bag before sending it across country to Wisconsin.

This piece was built from some directions that I purchased at my favorite craft store, Joann Fabrics. It's essentially two panels, one for each side, connected by some simple squares. I used fusible fleece for the batting and the inside is a cute purple color with sewn-on blue pockets, one to perfectly fit a cell phone. There are two tricky parts, the diamonds on the panels, and then sewing the handles on.

The diamonds are a combination of two white squares to every colored square. These squares are just a quarter the size of a normal quilting square (5.5" X 5.5"). Sew the two whites on the ends of the colored squares for five colored squares. Then you start sewing these 3-square combinations together, the long way, but lining them up so the new colored square is next to the bottom of the previous white square. The handles took about an hour for me to figure out how to sew them on without sewing them to the inside of the lining. I can't even remember how I did it. I'll better document the process the next time around!

I've since invested in a quilting book, "The Quilting Bible", which has some cool ideas that I plan to implement after finishing this round of baby blankets (pictures to follow once they are given away!).

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