Sunday, 18 December 2011

FNSI: No more tears

I have dragged my project back from the precipice of disaster, and I am now ready to share it with you all. It's a Christmas present for my Mum - I've already told her not to look at my blog for the next week.

@Mum: If you have ignored my warnings, this is the post you need to skip!

[gap to give her chance to change her mind]

Here it is: a bag. She is a parish councillor and needs to take big folders to meetings. On our summer holidays she was looking for a bag that would do the job, but nothing seemed to be both big enough and strong enough. With that in mind, I decided to use two of the blocks I made at the Jennie Rayment class back in May (which I know she loves - she has a thing for black and batiks at the moment) and finish them off and craft them into a bag.

This was a bit of a challenge for me, No tutorial. Just me and my little brain. And some help from Kim and Margaret at the Fat Quarters. I made the bag as a box without a top. Each of the five sides was assembled separately and quilted separately, then I stitched them together (nice chunky seams with two layers of wadding) and bound the seams inside the bag at the same time.

The blocks themselves are made from cotton fabrics, but the rest of the bag is made from Duck Cloth. It's heavier weight than cotton and moving towards canvas, but still soft and supple and quiltable. I'm glad I had my new machine though. My old one would have gone on strike.

I am a convert to duck cloth - but be careful - it frays a lot!

The handles were the biggest challenge. I'd originally intended to stitch them down tht outside of the bag on each side and into the seams at the bottom of the bag, but if I'd put one down each side of the block, the bag would have had to have been enormous. So Kim suggested eyelets/grommets.

Back to Friday night sew in: I completed the front and back of the bag. I had finished piecing the blocks back in May, but the techniques are similar to Catherdral Window patchwork, whereby there are a lot of pieces with a folded bias edge that can be rolled back to create a curve. So I had done a lot of rolling, folding and appliquing them to get them ready. I then put setting squares on all four sides and used up some scraps of wadding for the batting and more duck cloth to complete the sandwich. I then simply quilted round the edge of the block a few times.

I spent all day Saturday quilting the remaining three panels and assembling the "box". I finished it off by binding the top in the red fabric used in the blocks. So far so good.

Then I had to do the eyelets. I cut a hole in the bag. Very scary. The eyelets refused to take the thinckness of fabric and snapped when I tried to close them together. So now I had a five sides fabric box with a hole in it.

That was the point at which I wrote yesterday's blog post.

This morning I miraculously managed to park in the centre of Newcastle less than week before Christmas and bough some Curtain eyelets from John Lewis. Came home and "click"! Perfect. Phew. Christmas is back on. The bad handles are made from four width-of-fabric lengths of the duck cloth with wadding in between then top stitched.

I am so so pleased with the result and so pleased to have it finished - I was well out of my comfort zone with this one, but so desperate to get it right for my Mum. I hope she likes it!

Final measurements: the front and back are 17.5" x 19.5" and it is 6" deep. The handles are long enough that you can carry it on your shoulder.

I have to show the bag to a friend at work who has heard all about it. And it is a perfect size to fit the big project boxes I use when quilting... I see more bags in my future! I have 8 more eyelets already.

Now to finish off the other Christmas presents....

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