Friday Finish: Lots-o-Pouches!

Happy Friday, peeps!! If you follow me on Instagram (BranchVineHandmade), you know I have been a busy bee in my sewing studio this week...

 Open-wide pouches on repeat! 

Open-wide pouches on repeat! 

I'll be selling at my very first craft fair next Friday (EEK!), so I've been spending this week adding to my supply of pouches. I've been making a lot of boxy pouches lately (I use this tutorial and it's fab!), and wanted to mix things up a bit and revisited an old favorite -- the open wide pouch by Noodlehead! I lurve these pouches! 

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I used the medium size measurements for contrast bottoms with the exception of the C+S telephones print; I mis-cut fabric for another project, so I had a Tim Gunn make-it-work moment and made this pouch between medium and large sizes. For the contrast bottoms, I used waxed canvas and waxed linen from A.L. Frances Textiles in three of the pouches and pinstriped denim left-over from by Cosmo bag make for the other two; I love the sturdy feel it gives these pouches! I used an assortment of my favorite Cotton + Steel and Tula Pink prints for the exteriors. I interfaced the cotton with fusible fleece before sewing to the contrast bottom and I am thrilled with the outcome. Continuing my obsession with C + S, you will see I've used an abundance for the linings as well!

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If you're local to Bellingham and Whatcom County, I hope you'll check out the Happy Valley Craft Fair (Happy Valley Elementary School, 1041 24th St., Bellingham WA, 98225) on Friday, April 27 from 12-8. Come support local artisans and treat yourself or look for a unique Mother's Day gift from items lovingly and locally made. Be sure to stop by my table and say hi! I'll be the one guzzling coffee and doing hand applique, ha!

A bright spot on a rainy day

I live in the stunningly beautiful Pacific Northwest, but let's keep it real... this is my view pretty much November through March...

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Naturally, I have a special place in my heart for this print by Cotton + Steel and I knew it needed to back a baby quilt! Love the colors which inspired the fabric pull. I sat and stewed a bit feeling torn as to the quilt top design: Squares and Hourglass blocks? Modern house blocks? HST? Decisions, decisions...

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I recently read "Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood (it's on Netflix, too, but I am more of a book nerd than a show watcher so I have yet to view it), which dramatizes the life of a convicted murderess in the mid nineteenth century. During her meetings with a researcher, she is often quilting and shares her thoughts. The copy of the book I read featured simple drawings of quilt blocks to accompany each chapter, so I snapped pics of some of my faves, one of which I settled upon for this quilt; in the book it was referred to as "Fox & Geese" but I've also seen this block called "Old Maid's Puzzle". 

Decision made on design, I merrily set to cutting fabrics and piecing blocks and was really loving the individual blocks. As they started to form a little community on my design wall, I was less in love; does this ever happen to you? Then the conversation with myself began: "Do you still love the colors you chose?", "Yes, Self, I most certainly do.", "Do you still enjoy the individual blocks you made?", "Yes, Self, they are fabulous.", "So, the problem is the layout... Let's play with that.", "Self, that's a great idea!".

Having a design wall has been the most helpful tool in my design process; I benefit from being able to see the quilt take shape over time. I need both time and perspective to let my ideas marinate and I enjoy the opportunity to edit my ideas as I'm creating blocks. If a fabric isn't working, I'd rather axe it partway through then after I've completed every block. Sometimes the weight of having all my blocks finished makes me less likely to make changes at the end, even though I usually regret it and the offending design decision continues to give me side-eye...

 Part-way through the process of assembling blocks and grouping them on the design wall. Feeling pretty "Meh" about them at this point.

Part-way through the process of assembling blocks and grouping them on the design wall. Feeling pretty "Meh" about them at this point.

 After a little rearranging and rotating some of the blocks, I became MUCH happier with this layout. I dig the star-shaped secondary pattern emerging and I feel this layout has more movement.

After a little rearranging and rotating some of the blocks, I became MUCH happier with this layout. I dig the star-shaped secondary pattern emerging and I feel this layout has more movement.

Here's the finished product entitled "Rainy Day". I used lots of Cotton + Steel basics (I can't get enough of them, it's a problem), but you'll also find some Denyse Schmidt, Carolyn Friedlander, Art Gallery, and Tula Pink in the mix. I used an assortment of low volume fabrics for the background (a continuing theme in most of my work) in shades of whites and pale grays.

 Here's "Rainy Day" on a sunny day! Ha!

Here's "Rainy Day" on a sunny day! Ha!

 Up close and personal with the quilting! I stitched in the ditch in a 2-inch grid. The texture and drape is divine!

Up close and personal with the quilting! I stitched in the ditch in a 2-inch grid. The texture and drape is divine!

 Hand-stitched binding in a Cotton + Steel basic: Dottie's cousin in teal. 

Hand-stitched binding in a Cotton + Steel basic: Dottie's cousin in teal. 

I fully enjoyed the process for this quilt and adore the finished product! I've listed this quilt in my shop and I hope it will bless a sweet baby and family soon!

Checking off the last item on my Finish-A-Long list!

Tutorial: Patchwork Tote Bag

I love working with scraps, and 2.5" squares are my favorites to use. For me, playing with simple patchwork scraps has been valuable in experimenting with color and value and useful in jumpstarting creativity. I turn to patchwork when I am feeling short on ideas but really need the therapeutic benefits of sitting at my machine and stitching pretty pieces of cloth together (can I get an "amen" for sewing therapy?). 

 My scrap basket dedicated to 2.5" squares. Basket measures 14"x12"x7" and no matter how many scrap projects I do, I feel like a barely make a dent in this pile!

My scrap basket dedicated to 2.5" squares. Basket measures 14"x12"x7" and no matter how many scrap projects I do, I feel like a barely make a dent in this pile!

Today I want to share one of my favorite scrap projects: the Patchwork Tote Bag! In my hometown, we have a ban on plastic bags and stores charge a $0.05 fee for each paper bag they provide to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to reduce the environmental impact of single-use bags. After lots of trial-and-error in making grocery and tote bags, this is my go-to size. Ready to make your own?

 Truth to be told, when I snapped this pic it was 50 degrees and raining; can you tell I'm looking forward to sunshine?!

Truth to be told, when I snapped this pic it was 50 degrees and raining; can you tell I'm looking forward to sunshine?!

Here's what you'll need:
     - 156 x 2.5" squares (for the exterior)
     - Batting measuring at least 22"x18" (I even used scrap batting!)
     - 1/2 yd of fabric for lining
     - 5" x WOF (width of fabric) for handles
     - I recommend using a walking foot and 90/14 needle to smoothly handle all the layers.

 Diagram of patchwork panel; we'll be making 2 of these panels for the exterior of the bag

Diagram of patchwork panel; we'll be making 2 of these panels for the exterior of the bag

Step 1: Sew patchwork squares together to form rows. For each panel, you will need to make 7 rows of 10 squares and one row of 8 squares. Seams may be pressed open or to the side to suit your preference. 

 2 patchwork panels to create exterior of bag

2 patchwork panels to create exterior of bag

Step 2: Pin patchwork panels together along the row of 8 squares. Sew panels together using 1/4" seam allowance.

  Be sure to match seams and pin at each intersection. 

Be sure to match seams and pin at each intersection. 

 This is what your completed patchwork panel should look like to make the exterior of your bag.

This is what your completed patchwork panel should look like to make the exterior of your bag.

Step 3: Place patchwork right side up on top of batting. Baste and quilt as desired.

 Pin basted

Pin basted

 I chose crosshatch quilting in white thread.

I chose crosshatch quilting in white thread.

Step 4: Trim excess batting from edges of patchwork panels. 

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Step 5: Fold patchwork panel in half right sides facing. Pin along the sides. Be sure to match seams and pin at each intersection! Sew along each side seam using 3/8" seam allowance and your walking foot. Press seams open.

 Pin and sew down just the side seams; don't sew along the notched corner at the bottom. We'll box this corner next!

Pin and sew down just the side seams; don't sew along the notched corner at the bottom. We'll box this corner next!

 Match seam and pin at each patchwork seam intersection.

Match seam and pin at each patchwork seam intersection.

Step 6: Now we're going to box the corner to make our bags roomy enough for a trip to the store! Pinch the notch at the bottom corner to align the bottom and side seams (be sure to match & pin seams of your patchwork for a polished look). Sew this corner shut with a 3/8" seam allowance. Repeat for the other side. Turn exterior right-side-out.

 Meet the bottom edge of the side seam you just sewed to the bottom edge of the notched corner (marked with blue "X"s in the photo).

Meet the bottom edge of the side seam you just sewed to the bottom edge of the notched corner (marked with blue "X"s in the photo).

 Match the seams from your patchwork and pin.

Match the seams from your patchwork and pin.

 This is what your pinned corner should look like.

This is what your pinned corner should look like.

 Stitch corner shut using 3/8" seam allowance.

Stitch corner shut using 3/8" seam allowance.

 This is what your corner should look like now.

This is what your corner should look like now.

 This is what your finished corner, or side gusset, will look like when turned right-side-out.

This is what your finished corner, or side gusset, will look like when turned right-side-out.

 Here's what your patchwork exterior should look like now! Time to move on to the lining!

Here's what your patchwork exterior should look like now! Time to move on to the lining!

Step 7: Cutting the lining fabric. With your 1/2 yard of lining fabric, place WST and cut 16.5x20.5" rectangle. We want to cut a notch in the bottom corners so that we can box the corners of the lining (just as we did in the patchwork panels). To do this, measure and cut a 2.25"x2.25" square in the bottom left and right sides along the 20.5" edge. 

 Here's my lining (don't you love this cute Cotton + Steel Clover print?) with my corners notched to allow me to box the corners for the side gusset.

Here's my lining (don't you love this cute Cotton + Steel Clover print?) with my corners notched to allow me to box the corners for the side gusset.

 Measuring to cut the notched corners.

Measuring to cut the notched corners.

Step 8: Pin lining panels RST along side seams just to notched corner. Sew side seams closed using 3/8" seam allowance. Press seams open.

 Sides pinned!

Sides pinned!

 I left my walking foot on for this part because I was too lazy to change back to my regular foot, keeping it real!

I left my walking foot on for this part because I was too lazy to change back to my regular foot, keeping it real!

Step 9: Pin along the bottom of the lining and sew using a 3/8" seam allowance; be sure to leave an opening of about 6 inches to allow you to pull the exterior through the lining when it's time to right-side-out the project. Press seams open

 Pinned at bottom leaving an opening for turning.

Pinned at bottom leaving an opening for turning.

 Bottom of lining sewn leaving an opening for turning.

Bottom of lining sewn leaving an opening for turning.

 Seams pressed open

Seams pressed open

Step 10: Time to box both corners of the lining following the same procedure we did with our patchwork panels. 

 Match side seam to bottom seam and pin.

Match side seam to bottom seam and pin.

 Sew using 3/8" seam allowance.

Sew using 3/8" seam allowance.

Step 11: Time to make the handles! Cut 5"xWOF along the fold. 

 I used Essex Homespun linen in black for my handles; pretty much every tote bag I make has Essex yarn-dyed linen handles!

I used Essex Homespun linen in black for my handles; pretty much every tote bag I make has Essex yarn-dyed linen handles!

Step 12: Pressing the handles. Open your fabric so that you have a piece that is 5" by approx. 40-42". Now fold in half lengthwise (WST) and press a center crease. Open your fabric. Fold the top half of the fabric lengthwise (WST) down to the center crease and press. Now press bottom half of fabric up towards center crease. Fold top half down to meet the bottom half along the center crease and press.

 Pressing a center crease after folding fabric in half lengthwise.

Pressing a center crease after folding fabric in half lengthwise.

 Pressing top half toward center crease.

Pressing top half toward center crease.

 Pressing bottom half towards center crease.

Pressing bottom half towards center crease.

 Top half folded down along center crease to meet bottom half and pressing.

Top half folded down along center crease to meet bottom half and pressing.

Step 13: Edgestitch along both long sides of handle. Now you should have one LONG handle!

 Edgestitching!

Edgestitching!

Step 14: Time to turn that long handle into 2 shorter handles! Match the short ends of the handles and fold long handle in half. Cut handle in half along folded loop. Now you should have 2 handles of matching length.

 Cutting long handle in half.

Cutting long handle in half.

 And then there were two!

And then there were two!

Step 15: Time to put all those pieces together! Pin the handles to the top of your patchwork panels about 2-2.5" from the center; I used the edges of my patchwork pieces as a guide. Be sure your handles aren't twisted here! You can baste your handles in place now if you like. Slide the lining over the patchwork exterior (RST) and pin at the top. Sew around the top using a 3/8" seam allowance. 

 Pinning handles to exterior

Pinning handles to exterior

 Handles tucked between patchwork and lining.

Handles tucked between patchwork and lining.

Step 16: Pull the exterior out through the opening in the bottom of the lining. Pin the opening of the lining closed and edgestitch using 1/8" seam allowance.

 Turning right-side-out

Turning right-side-out

 Lining  & exterior sewn together

Lining  & exterior sewn together

 Lining sewn closed

Lining sewn closed

Step 17: Finishing touches! Push the lining down into the exterior and press at the top. Top stitch around the top edge of the bag. 

 Tuck the lining in

Tuck the lining in

 Give it a good press

Give it a good press

 Topstitched!

Topstitched!

And your bag is ready to be loaded up for your next grocery store run, trip the library, or adventure to the park! I'd love to see your finished bags, so send me a link or tag me on IG (BranchVineHandmade) to share your work! I'm already working on another controlled scrappy version of this bag, so follow me on IG to see how that iteration turns out!