And breathe: A Bags Tale

‘And breathe…’ No! I haven’t taken up Yoga. Yes! I have had another go at free motion quilting (fmq) – I know, that’s the second time in one month! I just had to laugh at myself while I was in the process of fmq-ing. Unlike some people I don’t stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating hard (well, at least I don’t think I do) but I do hold my breath. This can be very counterproductive: when I was learning to swim I’d be concentrating so hard on not sinking that I wouldn’t breath across the width of the little pool!

My breathless ‘meandering’!

Anyway, the stitching is over so I’ve recovered my breath, O² and CO² levels have returned to normal and I can share what I was making 🙂 Inspired by teaching the patchwork tote bag to the three lovely students at Purple Stitches I decided it was about time I had a new bag myself.

The workshop ladies with their completed bags 🙂 🙂 🙂

The very useful padded tote bag I’ve been using for the past couple of years was won in a raffle and, lovely as it is, I’m getting a little embarrassed having to explain every time someone compliments me on the bag that it is not my own handiwork.

My completed bag. After echo quilting around the panel and then quilting in the ditch around the star shape I ‘bit the bullet’ and free motion quilted over the floral fabric (breathing between each triangle!).
The other side of my bag. The block is called ‘Buckwheat’ and I think it would create an interesting quilt top…
Just to prove the exhibition really is held at a racecourse!

I finished the bag on Thursday and we had our first outing together on Friday: a trip to the annual National Quilt Championships held at Sandown Racecourse, on the western fringes of London. By the end of the day my bag was filled to the brim with fabric and notions – I’m glad to report all the seams held up under the strain!

A small corner of the retail therapy available in the racecourse stands!

IMG_1205I’d love to post some photos of the beautiful and inspiring quilts that were on show but unfortunately that is not allowed so here is a link to one of the exhibitors if you’d like to go investigate: Gail Lawther exhibited a series of her stained glass quilt panels including ‘Birds of the World’ and her new series called ‘Enchanted Garden’.

Among the treasures I came home with is a ruler designed to draw circles. With evenly spaced holes along the length of the ruler and a zero point at one end you can draw circles with a radius from 1″ up to 30″.  I’m hoping this will be particularly useful for marking out Baptist Fan quilting lines…  This ruler along with many others is designed and made by Jo and Andy of Crafty-UK.

My treasures including the circle ruler 🙂

While I’m on the subject of useful gadgets… Quilt Direct are promoting a universal spool designed by Lee Fletcher that reduces the problems of metallic and speciality threads splitting and breaking. Find out more here.



I’ve been up with the lark blackbird this morning and witnessed a very subtle dawn breaking across an unusually clear sky. It is a real treat to start the day with the promise of sunshine after a week of leaden skies. In the book of Revelation (21:23) John says of the new heaven and new earth that God’s city  ‘does not need the the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp’.




6 thoughts on “And breathe: A Bags Tale

  1. your tote bag looks great – I really like the fabrics you used. I’ve been away for a few days but one of my WIP is quilting a Missouri star block table topper, I think that is the block on the first side you showed on your tote ?
    Looks like you brought home quite a haul from the quilt show ! It must have been quite inspiring to see so many quilts in one place.

    • Thanks for your comments Colleen. I really like patchwork stars – I’m designing a table runner with star blocks ready for a class. According to my Judy Hopkins book the block on my bag is a ‘Crystal Star’ – a bit simpler than your Missouri Star, look forward to seeing some photos of that ☺

    • Thanks for the link to this poem, there is a lot of thought provoking truth in it’s encouraging words. It is very true that when we try to get through tough times in our own strength rather than seeking Jesus to guide us through we end up hiding His light instead letting it shine.

  2. Great bags, Allison. I’ve never free motion quilted — never machine quilted, for that matter — and I can imagine holding my breath while quilting and then holding my tongue when looking at the results. Great purchases. I love those two fabrics on the bottom of the stack on the right. They are gorgeous!

    • Ha!ha! Yes! Holding back from criticising our own work is often more difficult than actually doing it! Some of those fabrics went into the pieced back but there is enough left over for another project…


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