Three bags: two wins, one fail, learning all the time!

Phew! First of all let’s get the weather chat out the way! Of course it is the number one subject here in the UK 😀 After months of cool, very wet weather the temperatures have suddenly ramped up. Here in central southern England we have had a succession of days in the high twenties. The forecast is for rain at the weekend followed by a dry week with much more comfortable low twenties temperatures. My poor tomato plants have gone from being completely water-logged to being fried! Not sure there will be much of a crop to enjoy this year.

Anyho! Some sewing has been going on between sweaty trips to the allotment (we are harvesting raspberries, courgettes and beans at the moment).

I bought a metre each of these Debbie Shore fabrics a few weeks a go with a friend in mind. She loves nature and keeps Doves as pets so the

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Scrappy Scrap Basket tutorial for The Summer Scrap Elimination 2021

Scrappy Scrap Basket. The Why? I often use scraps of fabric as an on-going leader-ender project. I have a bin of scraps within easy reach of my sewing machine and select a couple of scraps to stitch together each time I start or finish chain piecing patchwork units. On the other side of my sewing machine I have a basket ready to receive the stitched leader-enders as I snip them off the strings of chain pieced units. When the basket is full to over-flowing I know it’s time to press the seams of the leader-enders before throwing them in the box ready to become bigger units in a scrappy patchwork quilt 🙂

I’ve made several of these baskets and love just how scrappy a Scrappy Scrap Basket can be! For this tutorial I made a basket not only from fabric scraps but also interfacing scraps and wadding scraps. Funny how I still have loads of scraps…

It’s  Week 4 of the Summer Scrap Elimination 2021 blog hop and I’m very happy to be sharing this Scrappy Scrap Basket tutorial as a contributor to Swan Amity Studio’s annual event.

Scrappy Scrap Basket. The How?

Materials to make a basket approx. :

  • Ten 2½” x 5″ rectangles of fabric (outer sides of basket)
  • Two 2½” x 10½” rectangles of fabric (outer base of basket)
  • Two 1¾” x 10½” rectangles of fabric (outer top of basket)
  • Two 4½” x 6½” rectangles of fabric (tab handles)
  • Two 10¼” x 8″ rectangles of fabric  (lining of basket)
  • Two 10″ x 7¾” rectangles of medium weight interfacing
  • One piece of wadding 11″ x 22″
  • Top stitching thread

Note: Use ¼” seam allowance unless directed otherwise; reinforce start and finishes of all seams with reverse stitching.

Step 1: Basket Outer

  • Stitch together the 2½” x 5″ rectangles along their long edges to make the basket back and front each measuring 5″ x 10½”. Press seams open or to the darker fabrics.

  • Stitch the 1¾” x 10½” rectangles to the upper edges of the basket back and front. Press seams open.

  • Stitch the 2½” x 10½” rectangles to the bottom edges of the basket back and front. Press seams open.
  • Apply iron-on interfacing to the reverse sides of the basket back and front pieces.

  • Lay the back and front pieces side by side on the strip of wadding. Baste using spray or pins.

  • Quilt both using a design of your choice (I used a walking foot to quilt a twisted ribbon design and echoed the seam between the vertical rectangles and the horizontal fabric at the top of the basket).
  • Trim away the excess wadding so the basket’s back and front each measure 8¼” high by 10½” wide.
  • Boxed Corners: Place the basket back and front right sides together. Mark a 2¼” square in the bottom corners.

  • Stitch the sides and bottom seams together – back stitch at the start and end of each seam and across the marked lines.

  • Cut away the bottom corners along the marked lines.

  • Pinch the two open edges of a cut corner together, aligning the bottom seam with the side seam.

  • Stitch the open edges of the boxed corner together making sure to back stitch at the start and finish of the seam.

  • Repeat with the opposite corner.

Step 2: Tab Handles

  • Fold a 4½” x 6½” rectangle in half – short edge to short edge – to find the centre and press along the fold. Open out the rectangle and fold both short edges to the centre crease. Press and then fold edges together along the centre crease to create a 1″ x 6½” tab.

  • Top stitch 1/8th inch in from the edges along both sides of the tab.
  • Fold the tab in half. Centre the open edges against the top of a side seam of the outer basket – right sides together. Using an 1/8th inch seam allowance baste in place.

  • Repeat to make the second tab handle.

Step 3: Basket Lining

  • Lay the two lining rectangles right sides together and mark 2¼” squares in the bottom corners ready to make boxed corners.
  • Stitch the side seams starting with a ¼” allowance at the top edge gradually moving to ½” allowance at the marked line. Reverse stitch at the start and beginning of each seam.

  • Stitch a ¼” seam along the bottom edge leaving a 3″ opening to turn the basket right sides out. Reverse stitch at the start and finish of each seam.
  • Cut away the marked corner squares.
  • Make boxed corners in the same way as those made for the outer basket.
  • Press open the side and bottom seams.

Step 4: Create the Basket

  • Place the outer basket inside the lining, right sides together.
  • Align the side seams and pin or clip together the top edges of the basket outer and lining.

  • Stitch together using a ¼” seam all around the top edges of the outer basket and lining.
  • Turn the basket right sides out through the opening in the lining.
  • Carefully roll and finger press around the top edge of the basket.

  • Top stitch ¼” around the top edge of the basket.
  • Machine or hand stitch closed the opening in the lining.

Congratulations! Your Scrappy Basket is finished and ready to receive it’s fill of scraps!

Of course, this basket pattern can be adapted in many ways depending on the shape and size of the scraps you use. It would be possible to use a stitch & flip method to attach strips of fabric to the wadding or to make the basket sides using a Crazy Patchwork technique. If you choose to make a larger basket I’d recommend using two layers of wadding or a foam interlining to make sure the sides are rigid enough to stay upright.

If you have any queries about this Scrappy Scrap Basket tutorial please do get in touch 🙂 Don’t forget to follow the link to the home of the Summer Scrap Elimination 2021 project at Swan Amity Studios where you’ll find Swan’s scrap elimination tutorials and links to other contributors of this years blog hop.

Allison

 

 

 

Making a Bag: How Hard Can It Be?

I invite you to join me on a bag making adventure 🙂 This is a self imposed challenge to learn new skills and maybe, maybe add bag making to my repotoire of workshops. I will endeavour to share with you what I learn as I follow the Pelican Tote pattern from Bagstock Designs. I’ve also be posting on Instagram @allisonreid.neweveverymorning using the hashtag #bagmaking🤔

In the past I have made lined tote bags and one or two zippered pouches but have always shied away from making a bag with zippered  pockets or structured interfacing. The Pelican Tote has both and is labelled a beginner level project. I’ll certainly be putting that to the test 😀

Without further ado, here is what I’ve been learning (skip to the end of the post to find links to online bag making tutorials and book recommendations):

Day 1: Cutting out the fabric pieces and applying fusible interfacing.

  • I followed the pattern requirements, purchasing woven iron-on interfacing, Pelon S-F 101. I fused the interfacing to the fabrics before cutting out the shapes using the templates. The woven interfacing gives quilting cottons a lovely feel and weight – they still move and drape like cotton but don’t crumple, they look smooth and feel soft. (Of course, woven interfacing is more expensive than standard interfacing!).
  • I’m amazed by how much fabric I used! Definitely a surprise. The bag pieces took just about all of the 1¼yds of fabric and all of the 2m of 20″ wide interfacing. Homemade bags, not cheap! Who’d have thought it?

Day 2: Making a zippered external pocket.

  • I followed the pattern instructions, applying some of the tips and techniques I remembered from my bag making research – see links at the end of this post.
  • I struggled to use the zipper foot correctly. I even switched to the standard foot a couple of times. My seam ripper came in handy as my top stitching failed to make the grade! In the end I decided to compromise so my topstitching is about 3/8ths from the seam edge rather than the 1/8th prescribed by the pattern but at least it’s reasonably straight.
I really struggled using a zipper foot on a straight stitch machine! I couldn’t figure out which side I should have the needle!
  • Longer stitch length is required for neat topstitching – how many times did I forget to adjust the stitch length on my machine? *sigh*
  • Matching up fabric prints above and below the zipper is tricky! More unpicking!
I got quite a sense of achievement when the external pocket was finally finished!

Day 3: Making an internal pocket and sewing in foam interfacing.

  • I watched a tutorial by Professor Pincushion to pick up a few extra tips about constructing the internal pocket; stitch across ends of zipper to keep it lying straight was one of the tips I applied. I also watched this quick tutorial by So Sew Easy – she used double-sided ‘wonder tape’ rather than pins to position the zip as does Lisa Lam in her Craftsy Class (see link below). I couldn’t get hold of the tape and someone said it can gum-up machine needles (have you experienced this?) so I fiddled about using my Sewline Glue Pen. The glue wasn’t really strong enough to hold the zipper in place but in the end I managed to stitch the zipper into the letter-box like gap.

  • After the zipper trials stitching the foam interlining to the front and back outer panels was an absolute breeze! I used a long basting stitch. Too late I picked up a tip to smooth out and pin the fabric to the interlining before basting to make sure the fabric didn’t shift or pucker. I didn’t have any real issues with this but I could create a slight bubble of fabric against the basting stitches by sweeping my hands across the fabric surface.

Day 4: Making handles, tabs for magnetic clasps and stitching the bag sides together.

  • I followed the pattern to make fabric shoulder straps. I’d run out of woven interlining so cut strips of Bamboo wadding to give the handles a little body.
  • The instructions for making the tabs were straightforward to follow. I used little pieces of the foam interlining as the ‘extra’ layer to add strength and protect the fabric from the metal clasp. 😀 The magnet in the clasp was really strong – I had real trouble separating the two parts before making the tabs!
Tab basted in place to the top edge of the bag lining.
  • I stitched darts in the bottom corners of the bag exterior and lining pieces as per the pattern before stitching them together. The foam interfacing is really easy to stitch through. I remembered to lengthen the machine stitch to about 3 to help keep the thick layers moving under the machine foot. What I forgot to do was widen the lining seam from ½” to 3/8ths so the lining sits a little bit baggy in the bag – if you know what I mean?

Day 5: Turning right-sides out and top-stitching.

  • I followed the pattern which gives instruction for turning the bag right sides out through the bottom of the internal pocket. Of course, despite all the reminders, I forgot to open the zipper before stitching the lining and exterior bag together – what am I like? 😀 So I had to unpick a few inches of stitching to reach inside and open the zipper! Never mind it was mistake that’s quick to correct! It was quite an effort to push all those layers through the gap in the bottom of the pocket but not impossible. (Birthing a bag is one of my favourite things! Many, many years ago I did seriously consider training to be a midwife!). I was pleased to see that all the squishing and tugging didn’t crease the foam interlining.

  • Final touches included hand sewing the open bottom seam in the internal pocket and machine stitching around the top edge of the bag. Julie the Juki stitches through the thick seams with barely a stutter but top stitching around the rim of the bag was a bit awkward as Julie doesn’t have a free arm option. I found turning the bag inside out was the most comfortable way to have the right side of the bag in view as I stitched.

Hurrah! The bag looks like a bag! It’s a finish!

I’m already sorting through my stash to make another. I’ve downloaded the instructions to add a recessed zip next time around – keep adding on the skills 😉

Here are some handy resources for novice bag makers like myself:

If you are mystified by the types of zippers and their uses then I recommend this link: Information about zippers

I watched this ‘Tips for Using Zippers’ tutorial by the Crafty Gemini before zipping (ha!ha!) through this tutorial by Sew Sweetness to find handy tips re. fitting and top stitching zippers.

For an alternative to using a zipper foot and some other tips take a look at Amista Baker’s short tutorial.

I watched a tutorial by Debbie Shore demonstrating how to create a zippered dividing pocket in a tote bag. I like her relaxed but professional style of presentation.

I’ve also been delving into some courses on Craftsy. I took advantage of the offer to take out a one year subscription for $3. This gives access to all the courses but only for the duration of the subscription. A bargain – as long as I remember to cancel the direct debit instruction prior to the $79.99 being removed from my bank account next year!

  • Joan Hawley ‘Zip It Up: Easy Techniques for Zippered Bags‘.
  • Sara Lawson ‘Building Better Bags: Interfacing & Structure‘. This provides a comprehensive look at the different types of interfacings and linings, their uses and how to apply them. Sara demonstrations methods of attaching zippers when interfacings and linings are being used and gives clear tips showing how to use interfacings to strengthen bag fastenings. There’s also a lesson on finishing bags with bias binding and how to add piping. The course notes include a table comparing interfacings by manufacturer which is a great help when trying to select the right product for a project.
  • Lisa Lam ‘20 Essential Techniques for Better Bags‘. I haven’t finished this course yet, learning lots as I watch. I have Lisa’s book, ‘The Bag Making Bible’ and have been dipping in and out of it throughout the process of making the Pelican Tote.

And a final ‘link’ to Samantha Hussey’s book ‘The Complete Bag Making Masterclass’ which has been another handy resource.

I hope this record of my foray into bag making has provided some useful information or provided you with an opportunity for a knowing smile or two as you recall your first bag-making projects.

Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers .

Allison

Pin Basting Methods

The three layers of a quilt sandwich are temporarily held together, basted, to keep them in place during the process of quilting. I think it’s safe to say most quilters find basting a tedious necessity.

I choose to pin baste, with varying degrees of success, and have tried several different ways of smoothing and fastening the layers. Earlier this week I discovered my latest session of pin basting had been spectacularly unsuccessful. I’d used a walking foot to quilt three wavy lines of stitches down the length of a quilt sandwich. The quilt top was definitely rippling as I stitched but I tried to quieten the alarm bells ringing in my head with the thought that if I continued quilting lines in the same direction the layers would ‘settle’ and all would be well. What?!? I finally checked the back of the quilt sandwich and the chill grip of reality closed around me…. I would have to unpick 180 inches of stitching, about 2,500 stitches, remove the basting pins and start again…

Unpicking is a slow process allowing plenty of time for thinking. I thought of the quote often attributed to Albert Einstein:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I resolved to do a bit of research into pin basting methods before re-basting my quilt sandwich, intending to apply what I’d learn and do things differently so as not to be proved insane.

Here is a summary of my research into pin basting. I read many more blog tutorials and watched, in part at least, many more YouTube videos than there are links listed below but I hope those selected will provide you with a good lead into solving the mystery of successful pin basting  🙂

I’ve divided my pin basting research results into three categories: on the floor; on a table; and board basting..

Pin Basting On the Floor:

How to Pin Baste a Quilt by We All Sew – carpet or hard surface. This method involves initially pinning the outside edges of a quilt backing to a carpet or taping it to a hard floor. Then smoothing on the batting before smoothing the quilt top down onto the batting and pinning the edges to to the carpet. Once the edges of the layers are secured pin basting begins.

  • Handy tip: Use the long edge of a quilting ruler to sweep across the quilt top in all directions to smooth out wrinkles before pinning it.

Successfully layering and basting a quilt by Generations Quilt Patterns. This method details taping backing to a hard floor before smoothing on batting and then smoothing and taping the quilt top.

  • Handy tip: After taping down test there is no excess fabric in the backing by running a hand over it. If the fabric bubbles or wrinkles re-tape the backing being careful to stretch out the fabric without pulling so hard it becomes distorted.

How to Pin Baste a Quilt by Tangible Culture. In this method masking tape is used to first tape the backing to a hard surface; then the wadding is taped to the backing; finally the quilt top is taped to the wadding.

Pin Basting On a Table:

Using Straight Silk Pins by National Quilters Circle. In this short video tutorial long, thin pins are used to baste a small quilt sandwich. The demonstrator says the the method can be used successfully for quilts up to throw size.

Quilting for Beginners: How to Baste Quilt Layers Together by Wisecrafthandmade. This table top method uses clamps to secure the layers to a table. Flowerhead pins, with homemade ‘Pinmoors’ made of craft foam, secure the layers. The tutorial explains how to baste a quilt larger than the the table surface.

Pin Basting Combined with Board Basting:

‘Board Basting’ is a technique for table top basting developed by Sharon Schamber. There are several videos of her demonstrating the method, unfortunately they are not great quality. On the Right Sides Together site there is an explanation of Board Basting that does include an in-focus video of Sharon demonstrating the board basting method. Although Sharon favours hand thread basting others have successfully used pin or spray basting when using the Board Basting technique.

The technique has been further developed to utilise swim noodles. Here’s a video of the swim noodle, pin baste technique. This is slightly different from the original Sharon S method as the wadding is also rolled.

* * * * *

So there you have it, a brief trip through a variety of pin basting processes. The variation in techniques explained in these tutorials is a good indication that there is no one way of creating a perfect pin basted quilt sandwich. But, we would hope, applying at least some of the tips and advice should lead to the process having a satisfactory outcome far more often than not.

What am I taking away from all this? I think first I made some basic errors in the basting of the quilt sandwich that sparked this blog post. I need to be more careful when I’m securing the backing – making sure it really is taut. I didn’t make allowances for one of the backing fabrics being quite a silky cotton, combining that with polyester wadding was more likely to lead to the sandwich layers shifting so I should have pinned more densely than I did…

So I am going to do things differently. I’ve cleared a space on my sewing room floor ready to pin baste the quilt sandwich.

It’s a l-o-n-g time since I basted on the floor and this is quite a confined space. My 58 year old knees and rather too large backside may well work against me ever doing this again but I’m interested to see if, for this quilt at least, pinning to the carpet will produce a successful quilt sandwich. I will let you know the result in my Saturday Quilting Bring & Share blog post or you may just hear my howls of despair or shouts of joy echoing around the World 😀

Incidentally I was taught how to ‘board baste’ when I first learned to patchwork quilt (thank you Flip!) and have kept the long boards tucked behind the spare bed but haven’t used the method for a long time. Having done this research I’m fascinated by the lack of stretching applied to the layers as they are unrolled from the boards or swim noodles. Maybe I’ll get those boards out from behind the bed and have a go at board basting my next quilt sandwich just to see if they do the job well enough on their own without the need to clamp or tape the layers to the table?

Please do add your experiences of pin basting and any tips you’d recommend to the comments box below. Thank you!

Linking with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. Kelly is bravely finding the silver linings in having a broken ankle!

Allison

PS. For an up-to-date and comprehensive guide to pin basting and other methods of securing a quilt sandwich take a scroll through this article, ‘Quilt basting tutorial – learn different ways to baste a quilt‘.