Lined Tote Bag – A Sewing Pattern

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I recently took a “bag making workshop” that I really enjoyed.  I also recently had some complimentary photos taken of me and my hubby by my talented friend.  As a “thank you” for my friend, I thought, why not make her a bag?  You know…put my new bag making skills to the test.  Well, I’m thrilled that I was able to do it!  A little quality instruction and practice can go a long way.

The bag I made is based on this lovely FREE pattern by “The Inspired Wren” – thank you!  Her tutorial is available on her blog but I loved how I could get a PDF version as well off of Craftsy.  You can find the link to the Craftsy PDF here.

Her instructions were very clear and easy to follow, her pictures were great, and she had some handy tips.

To make the bag durable, the pattern suggested using indoor/outdoor fabric and/or duck cloth but when I saw this “camera” quilting fabric, I knew it would be perfect for my friend!  (I purchased the fabric at Hobby Lobby here.)    So, instead of using indoor/outdoor fabric or heavy canvas I ironed fusible batting onto the wrong side of the outer shell fabric and bottom panels – it worked wonderfully.  If you decide to do this however, you will need to trim off the excess outer shell fabric that ends up being underneath the bottom panel…feel free to message me if you do this method and have any questions!  I’ve included a picture below.

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I wanted the straps to be a bit longer so placed them 5″ from the bottom of the bag instead of in line with the bottom of the bag like the pattern suggests.

My proudest feature of the bag is how I added the “welt pocket” on the inner lining.  (See that little black pocket hole?  It fits an iPhone!)  I will be posting a tutorial on how to do that shortly – stay tuned!

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My friend loved it – yay!

Happy Sewing,

-AFriendLikeBen-

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Bag Making Classes – Utica, NY

Over the past 4 weeks, I’ve been taking some amazing classes at Tiger Lily Quilts in Utica, NY and have really enjoyed them!

My teacher, Marlous, owner and operator of www.MarlousDesigns.com not only is an amazing teacher but has designed these patterns herself!  You can find her patterns at the following links:

To find “The Little Messenger Bag” pattern (green and brown bag) click here.

To find the “Cabana Mesh Tote” pattern (black and watermelon print) click here.  It is a quick and easy bag to make.  I used 5″ half square triangles instead of charm squares (5″ squares) to create the zig zag look.  See my half square triangle (HST) tutorial here.

The “Diaper Bag” (also called the “Monster Tote”) is not listed yet, but you can view all of the Marlous Designs available bag/tote patterns here.

If you’re ever in Central NY, I hope you can check out some of her classes.  I am so happy I was able to take them before my husband and I head back to our home in Toronto, Canada.

Happy Sewing,

-AFriendLikeBen-

Amigurumi Turtle

Okay…how cute did this little turtle turn out?!  I love that his little shell can come on and off.

I made this for my twin sister – our birthdays are coming up and I had yet to crochet something for her!  She loves turtles.

I used a pattern I purchased from Etsy a while ago by LuvlyGurumi.  I don’t know why I waited so long to make this because I LOVED the pattern.  It was super clear, easy to follow, there were large photos and the font was easy to read – I will definitely have to try another one of her patterns in the near future.

I think my sis will like it.

Happy Crochet’ing,

-AFriendLikeBen-

How To Make A Chevron Quilt – Full Tutorial

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Chevron is in!  It’s a simple zig-zag pattern that’s everywhere.  In quilting, there are a lot of different ways to make a chevron quilt but I chose to to use half square triangles (HST) because it was the most popular option I saw when researching how to do it.

To learn how to create HST’s and/or create HST’s with directional fabric, see my detailed tutorial about it here.

This post is about how I sewed the half square triangles together and made the entire quilt.  Literally, every little step from start to finish I tried to include!

Here’s how you get started: First, decide how you’re going to lay your pattern down.  I found this helpful template for FREE on Craftsy.  With it, I was able to create a concrete image of the quilt I was going for.  I brought this piece of paper with me to the fabric store and it helped me so much because I knew what colour palette I was looking for and roughly how much fabric I would need.  My finished quilt changed slightly as I went along but this template was a great starting point.

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After I made my HST’s, I completed the following steps.

This is how I sewed the squares together: Step 1:  Lay out your HST’s so that colours touch colours and white touches white in a chevron pattern (zig-zag pattern.)

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Step 2:  Sew the half square triangles into horizontal rows with a 1/4 seam allowance. Press the seams with a hot iron.  This row has all of the vertical seams pressed to the right.

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The row below has all of the vertical seams pressed to the left.

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Continue sewing the rows and pressing the vertical seams all to the right followed by a row with seams all to the left.

Step 3:  Attach 2 rows together with a 1/4 seam.  To do this, align the raw edges and pin together.  Since one vertical seam goes to the right and the other goes to the left, they create a little ridge that allows them to nest up together like so. photo 3

Once sewn together, press the seam you just made.  I chose to press these seams towards the top of the quilt.  I like to spray my seams with “best press.”  It really helps to make crisp, neat seams when you iron over it.

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Continue sewing 2 rows together at a time and before you know it, you have a fleet of chevron zig zags.

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Step 4:  Sew the rows you just made together like you did in step 3 until all of the rows are attached and you have a quilt top!

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But….At this point, I decided I wanted 8 squares across instead of only 7, so I added them on.  I also decided I wanted to add a white border.  Typical me.  I can never just stick to the plan.

This is how I added the border: Step 1:  Cut 4 (2.5″ x width of fabric) strips and sew them together like you would a binding strip.

Here’s the fastest tutorial on how to do make a binding strip:

A)  Lay ends of 2 strips, right sides together, like a plus sign.

B)  Attach strips together sewing across corner to corner.

C)  Trim with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

D)  Press open.

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Step 2:  Sew a strip on the top of the quilt and the bottom of the quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Trim excess.

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Sew strips on the sides of the quilt in the same fashion (picture not available.) Now you’re ready to make your “quilt sandwich” which is the quilt top, batting in the middle and a quilt bottom sewn together…like a sandwich.

This is how I made the quilt sandwich:

Step 1: Lay down your backing fabric wrong side up.

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Step 2:  Lay your batting on top.  Smooooooth it out!  (This batting is way too big but the smaller package available was just was just a little too small.)

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Step 3: Lay your quilt top on top and smooooooth it out some more.

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As you can see, there is too much batting so I trimmed it.  They say to have at least 2″ extra of backing and batting outside of your quilt top before you sew it together.  I had about 4″ because I was afraid I’d screw it up!

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Step 4:  Baste your quilt sandwich (meaning, attach all the layers you just laid down together.)  There are a few different methods of doing this.  I used quilting safety pins.  I only pinned through the coloured fabrics because I didn’t want the pin holes to show after I took them out of the white fabric.

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Now you’re actually ready to quilt!

This is how I quilted my quilt: There are endless possibilities with how you quilt your blanket together. Firstly, I “stitched in the ditch.”  All this means is that you sew along an already existing seam so you can’t see the stitch on the front of the quilt (but you can see it on the back of the quilt.)

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After, I stitched lines about 1/4′ above the coloured chevron zig-zags and 1/4″ below the coloured zig-zags.  These lines are visible from the front and back of the quilt.

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Look!  It’s really coming together now:

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Before long…wait, who am I kidding, these quilts take some time…but after you’re done that, you’re ready to trim off the excess and attach the binding!

This is how I trimmed the excess:

Easy!  Use a ruler and a rotary cutter and trim.

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So fresh and so clean, clean!

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Last step, and it’s an important one, the binding!  The binding is a strip of fabric that enclosed the edges of your quilt sandwich.

This is how I made and assembled the binding:

*I am choosing to do my binding strips in white which might make some steps difficult to see…but I’ll explain so hopefully you get the idea!

Step 1:  Cut strips that are 2.5″ x the width of fabric.  (Strips of a different width can be made – it’s personal preference.)  How do you know when you have enough strips?  Measure the perimeter of your quilt and add approx 12-18″ of extra length to be sure you have enough.  I cut 5 strips.

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Step 2:  Sew your binding strips together and press the same way as you sewed them together for the border.  Here’s the picture again for good measure.

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Step 3: Press your long binding strip in half, wrong sides together.

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Step 4:  Prepare the end of your binding strip for closure.  Cut end of strip at a 45 degree angle.  Fold over 1/4″ and press

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Step 5:  Pin your binding along one of the edges of the front of your quilt.  (I used binding clips – they make it so easy!)  Start with pinning the binding end you just cut with the 45 degree angle.  The raw edges of the binding should meet the raw edge of the quilt top.

Step 6:  Begin sewing your binding to the quilt top with a 1/4″ seam.  I’m using a 1/4″ foot on my sewing machine. Start here….

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Stop here…

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Start here again (about 2 inches away from where you just stopped) and sew until you’re approx 1/4″ away from the corner with a 1/4″ seam.

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So stop about there…you’re almost at the corner.  About 1/4″ away.

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Step 7:  Turn your quilt 90 degrees and sew right off the edge!

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Step 8:  Now you’re ready for the corner.  Fold the binding strip back on itself.  Press seam down with your fingers (or an iron if you’re fancy.)

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Step 9: Fold the binding back again to create a 45 degree line (mitred corner) and continue pinning along the raw edge of the quilt. Continue this process (stitching to almost the corner, turning 90 degrees and sewing off, folding the corner) all the way around your quilt, stopping when you’re about 4″ away from where you initially started.

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See, I stopped about 4″ away form where I started…

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Step 7:  Trim your tail so it’s about 2″ longer than where the binding starts.  (There might be a better way to do this part!  I just went with what made sense to me.)

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Step 8:  Snuggle the end underneath the 45 degree opening you made.  Make sure everything looks flat.

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Step 9:  Sew across.  Everything is attached now but you’re not done yet!

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Step 10:  Press binding open/away from the front of the quilt and fold it around to the back.  With the front of the quilt still facing you, clip or pin he binding into place making sure the binding is covering the 1/4″ stitch line you just made.

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See how it wraps around to the back here?

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Make sure the corners are folded nicely too!

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Look, all clipped!

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Step 11: With the top of the quilt facing up, “stitch in the ditch” all the way around making sure you are piercing through the binding that’s folded around the back of your quilt.  Go all the way around the quilt.

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Step 12:  Repeat.  Just kidding..You’re done!!!

Can you believe it? And that my friends, is how you make a quilt, particularly, a chevron quilt! I really hope you find this useful and give it a try.  Please feel free to send feedback or comment.

I hope baby girl likes it!  xo

Happy Quilting,

-AFriendLikeBen-

How To Sew Half Square Triangles (HST) with Directional Fabric

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Exciting news!  My hubby and I are expecting!  We found out we’re having a girl who is due in early September.  We’re very happy.  Obviously I love to sew, so I wanted to make a baby quilt to celebrate and to use as the first item in our nursery.  Being fairly new to quilting, I heard a baby chevron quilt using half-square triangles (also called HST) was a realistic quilt to make.  As beginner as it was, I ran into a few problems because of the directional fabric I chose!  This post is about how to make half-square triangles and also about how to make them with directional fabric.

See the aqua fabric with the bird cages?  See the pink fabric with the leaves?  Those are considered directional fabrics because the print is going in one or 2 directions.  The other fabrics are non-directional because you can lay them down in any way and the direction doesn’t matter.  (Fabrics I used are all Keepsake Calico Prints from Joanne.)  For quilting, directional fabric can be tricky to use… hence what this post is all about!

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To start, let’s all be on the same page with how to make a half-square triangle (HST).  You need 2 pieces.  I used a white 5″ square with each of my 5″ patterned pieces.  (5″ squares can also be called “Charm Squares.)

Step 1: Draw a line down the centre, corner to corner, of one of the patterned pieces.  I used pen because it will be cut through later.  If you’re using directional fabric, this step needs to be carefully planned (explained later.)  If your fabric is non-directional, it doesn’t matter which corners you draw your line through.

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Step 2: Lay the patterned piece over the white piece, right sides together.

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Step 3:  Stitch on either side of the marked line 1/4 of an inch.  I used my 1/4″ presser foot as a guide.

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If you prepare a lot of squares at once you can “chain piece” them together like this!  First, I sewed 1/4″ on one side of the line on all of the squares, then I turned it around and sewed on the other side of the line on all of the squares.

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Step 4: Cut each square in half along the centre line you drew in pen.

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Before you know it, you have a ton of HST’s waiting to be pressed!

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Step 5: Press each triangle open so that the seam lays below the darker fabric (in this case the patterned fabric.)

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Step 6: After sewing, each square is no longer a perfect 5″.  They are roughly 4.5″ squares so it’s a good idea to trim them a bit!  Use a square ruler as a guide if you can.

With the 45 degree line on the ruler laying over the seam on the square, measure a 4.5″ square and trim the edges.  Rotate the fabric square to the other side and trim those edges too.

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See that little seam allowance sticking out on the right?  give it a trim!

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So…at this point, I thought I was ready to sew my quilt in a chevron pattern but when I laid out the squares, the direction of the fabric was going all different ways!  ROOKIE MISTAKE!

Here is an example of what happened.  See how the birdcages on the left HST are upside down and the birdcages on the right HST are sideways?  I want them all to be right side up!

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To give you an idea of what it’s supposed to look like, here’s a picture of it after it was fixed.  See how all the bird cages are all right side up now?  The way to use directional fabric with half-square triangles all lies in where you place your seam.  As you can see, for each HST, the seam is going on an angle towards the right or to the left.

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To really see what I was doing, I took each square and folded it so that each seam was going up to the right or to the left while making sure that the pattern on the fabric was right side up.  I laid them in a pile.

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Then, one at a time,  I marked the back of each piece with a pen at the same place where I folded square.

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I sewed them together with white squares and all the HST’s were perfect!

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YAY!  The beginnings of a cute baby quilt for our new arrival on the way, xo.  I’ll tell you how I finished the quilt in my next post.

You can find another useful blog post on this topic here.

If you’ve done this before and have any more tips, please feel free to comment!  Thanks!

Happy sewing,

-AFriendLikeBen-

Amigurumi Bat

Bat Amigurumi

I am so excited to give this little bat to my friend who owns a local coffee shop in town.  Being new to the neighbourhood and knowing I’m only here for a few months, she has made me feel right at home and has always been so generous and kind.  Why am I making her a bat, you ask?  I noticed that she wears a lot of “Batman” shirts and has a fondness for bats.  (I get it, I love bats too!)

Once again, I purchased this pattern from Son’s Popkes because I love all of her patterns.  I feel this pattern was one of her best ones to date!  It had so many great details including how to place the eyes correctly (sometimes a challenge for me) and how to embroider the lines on the wings.

It turned out that I needed a little extra guidance with the embroidery part so I found a great video tutorial here.

I used Vanna’s Choice yarn in “Taupe” and “Charcoal Grey.”  I used a 3.5mm hook, polyester stuffing, and 6mm safety eyes.

Overall, I love how it turned out and I think my friend will love it too!

Stay tuned for some new sewing projects in the works!

-AFriendLikeBen-