Jane Market Bag

I got to do a little sewing recently. I’ve been dragging around my Purl Soho tote bag for months and months and it is sorely in need of a wash, but I hate all my other bags. So I thought I’d make something similar, but less NPR-free-tote. (Not that I don’t totally love a free tote).

So, anywho, I started checking around the interwebs for some inspiration and found about a zillion people had made this lovley Jane Market Bag. As evidenced by the very numerous search results on flickr here and the fact that it has it’s own group here. I should note that this pattern is actually supposed to be used as a fun grocery bag. Most of the changes I made (that I’m about to talk about) came about because I wanted to turn it into more of a big catch-all purse.

I bought the pattern for the bargain price of $6. It took me longer to pick out some fabrics than to do the cutting for this VERY easy and user friendly pattern. (Kudos to Alicia at rosylittlethings.com for such an easy to use pattern.) Recommended for beginning sewists. (sewers? I always think that reads like sewers where rats live…not sowers.)

So first – here was my initial fabric selection:

planning a new bag

I really needed a neutral bag that I could carry anytime. So that eliminated most of my prints for the outside. I love linen, and although I’m not sure it’s really sturdy enough for a bag, I went with it. Sadly, I didn’t have enough of this brown linen to do a front and back pocket, so I just did a front pocket.

I deviated from the pattern a little by adding some piping strips to the front, back and handles. I also added pockets inside and a little key hook inside so I wouldn’t have to dig around for my forever-missing keys.

Front:
jane market bag front

Inside:
jane market bag inside

Back:
here's the back!

I really liked the piping, but it was a little too fat. I used a one inch strip, folded in half and sewn into the seams between the panels on the front and back. I should have just done a half inch. So it looked more like this piping (the super skinning piping on the left and right of the pocket):

vanessa prototype-1

For the straps, the pattern calls for 4″ x something (21″ I think?) strips. But that seemed like it would be too short for me (I measured my Kroger .99 cent grocery bags as a baseline because they never fall off my shoulder), so I went with 4″x 26.5″. But to get the print on the edges that I wanted, I did 1″ of brown and 3″ of pop garden – sewed them together along the long edge, and then closed the loop by sewing the other long edge of brown to the long edge of pop garden. Make sense? It gave me a tube – inside out. I used my crochet hook to flip it right side out, and pressed it centering the brown linen. Then I top stitched it inside and outside the brown.

strap detail

Finally, instead of sewing the straps to the outside of the bag like in the pattern, I sewed them in at the same time that I sewed the lining to the outside of the bag. I’m not spatially smart enough to explain how this works, but you sew them in before you pull everything out through the bottom hole. You can see a great video of this ‘birthing’ method here: birth of a bag video by sugar sugar bags. She’s got the straps sewn inside also.

I’ve been carrying my new bag around for a few days now, and overall, I like it a lot. I’m planning a 2nd one, and next time, I’ll sew a bottom seam at the bottom of all pockets so my cell phone doesn’t slide down UNDERNEATH the bag. I just hate that. Also, I may consider interfacing. I was too lazy to put it in this time, and the pattern certainly doesn’t call for it. But even cotton batting would make this bag a lot more stable.

Here’s the fabric selection for the 2nd one – natural linen body, green red riding hood fabric for the pockets, green solid for the inside and piping. Should be cute!

in the works - another jane market bag

gems on the web

Oh, there are so many! First of all, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Second, I was over at Heather Bailey’s lovely blog, and I found this super cute free pattern for a bat named Betty Boo. While there, taking in the sites, I noticed a link for Trick-Or-Eat. Feast your eyes on this lovely collection…”nine favorite food, craft & lifestyle bloggers await behind nine haunted houses — with an array of holiday tricks and treats to greet you.” It’s a great collection of recipes and fun ideas…plus the little house graphics are super cute. Great job to all those super bloggers! And while on NotMartha.org – one of said super bloggers, I stumbled onto this fun site…treasure abounds at Ask MetaFilter.

For Halloween at the Blabbery house, we are bionicle crazy. This year’s creation was a big success – in fact, this bionicle costume was the first thing I’ve made for my son that he actually liked. His exact words were, “mom, you can make anything!” and “my costume is awesome!” And then he wouldn’t take it off for two days.

There is no higher praise. Meet Mata Nui…

HalloweenFestival09-07

my mini quilt swap group

I’m in a swap group on flickr for mini quilts. August was the first month I participated, and I made a pretty traditional pattern. By flickr standards, it was a dud. Only one or two comments. This month, with the theme of mushrooms and/or owls, I endeavored to have a much more successful flickr showing. So I decided to try my hand at an art quilt. I drew a little sketch, enlarged it on my scanner, and then cut out templates for raw edge applique. I have a ton of awesome fabrics that I don’t have a plan for, and I decided to cut into my gorgeous collection of Heather Bailey’s Bijoux and Pop Garden…it was actually kind of hard to cut into those pieces. Especially for little things like the snail’s head or the mushroom’s underbelly…it felt very wasteful. But I’m glad I did it! So here’s the result:
mushroomquilty-5
Here’s my sketch and and the back of my quilty – which are both pretty boring:
DSCN0691

mushroomquilty-7

Next post – the awesome quilty I received!

I’ve been hexed

So I’m still plugging away with my hexagons. I posted earlier about the girl that didn’t use paper-piecing – just pieced the hexes together. Well, I tried it, and I have to agree…it’s better. I started with some test fabric…tracing the template onto the back of my hex, pinning the corners, and hand piecing. Then I whip stitched a couple of my paper piece hexes. The end result is that the paper pieced ones look terrible. The stitching is awkward and REALLY shows. I think it has to do with the angle of stitches. Without the paper, I’m hand-piecing in line with the seam line. With the paper in there, I’m stitching perpendicular to the seam line. Make sense? Here are some visual aids…

no-paper hex

paperless piecing

english paper pieced

The main problem I found with the no-paper system is that now I have to plan out my design before I sew. So, I’ve started making flowers. Here’s my first one…

hex flower

hex flower back

I have no doubt that using the papers is more precise, but it’s also twice the work…we’ll see how it all works out. So far, I like my flower. If you need hexagon templates, you can download them from my download page above!

new crafts…

Here are my latest creations and almost creations. I made this cool hook roll using a bunch of Denyse Schmidt fabrics and my special pink Japanese bunny and squirrel fabric. I think it came out great. The pattern is from Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, and although it looked pretty intimidating with all of those strips, it was very fast and easy.

look at my hooks!

hook roll supplies

Plus, I loved using all those fabrics at once. I am really bad about collecting fabric and then not using it because I hate to cut it, and I hate the idea of not having it anymore. Isn’t that silly? What good is a fat quarter sitting in a box? Isn’t it much better cut into pieces and sewn into something cool? I can see the rationalilty of this right now, but when it comes to my next project, I’m sure I’ll have trouble selecting the fabric I’m willing to cut.

i put a hex on you!I’m also slowly working my way through a million hexagons. I don’t know how many I’ll make, but I cut about 400 squares from five different fabrics. And I’m using my handy hexagon templates (available for download!) which are working perfectly. I can’t decide if I want to just sew them into a big mix, or if I want to create a pattern with them. I saw a fun quilt in a book called Modern Primitive Quilts where the hexagons were appliqued around embroidered blocks – I loved that idea. Especially with fun embroidery patterns out there like Wee Wonderfuls stichettes. In fact, I think Heather Bailey’s fabrics would be the perfect frame for my Quilting Bee embroidery.

wee wonderful!

Quilt Run, pt. 1

The Southern California Quilt Run commenced last week (Thurs – Sun) and concludes this weekend. I spent Friday evening, all day Saturday and most of Sunday “running”. Basically, I covered about 700 miles and shopped in 27 quilt stores. Some great, some not so. My buying limit has been more than surpassed (good thing I saved a little in preparation), and I now have more projects than I could complete in a year. But still – that’s the goal, to complete them all and start again next summer.

freshcut colorway 1My favorite finds so far (still have 7 shops left, to be completed on Saturday) are Amy Butler’s new home dec line of fabric, all of her patterns for purses and clothes, and Denyse Schmidt’s book. Other favorites include Heather Bailey‘s Freshcut line (colorway 1 pictured) and any and all 1920s and 30s reproduction fabrics (old news, but I still love them.) I got a bunch of cute patterns for purses, aprons, and of course, quilts.

In each shop we get a charm – most are quilting related. Some signify the store in some way. These are a little annoying. What am I going to do with a penguin charm?

One cool shop was Quilt in a Day -that’s right, the same as the show on PBS. Turns out the shop is actually the studio for her show! You know, not when she’s in a fishing boat or in front of a log cabin, but when she’s constructing the quilt pieces. The shop was annoying though because I got there right at 9:01 pm (closing time) on Friday and had driven over 150 miles that day, and they wouldn’t stamp my damn card, so I had to go back to that store on Sunday. I even called in advance because I knew I was going to barely make it and the lady said, “oh, you’re not going to make it – we will be closing at exactly 9 pm.” Which sounded like a dare to me, so I DID make it, only she pretended not to hear me knocking on the door as she counted out her drawer. So I didn’t buy anything from them when I returned – their loss. But besides one other store with no parking, I had only happy experiences in each shop.

It was fun to keep running into the same ladies as we traveled the same path along the freeways. Lucky for me, I had my brother-in-law’s trusty TomTom One GPS device. I tell you, that thing is a marvel of convenience! I’m not sure if you’ve ever driven on the freeways in California, but the exits are often not where you’d expect. The TomTom warns you – it tells you which lane to get in! Amazing! I chose the Austrailian guy’s voice, and listened to his fun accent for every exit and turn. Very pleasant. And no furiously and dangerously looking at mapquest directions to figure out what comes next! I highly recommend TomToms to everyone!

At one point, I was in gridlocked traffic on the 405 freeway in Orange County. I hit “Alternate Route”, “Avoid 405” on the TomTom, and the Aussie (whom I assume is very handsome) told me to exit right away and proceeded to take me on a lovely scenic route through Topanga Canyon and along the Pacific Coast Highway. Couldn’t get any better than if someone else had been chauffeuring me around, paying for all my fabric.

So, this Saturday, I have to hit the last seven shops to be entered to win wonderful, fabulous prizes. I’ve also been entering all the guild opportunity drawings for gorgeous quilts I could never construct. Wish me luck!