Ok, ok, it may not be the biggest finished project on the boards, but I’M pretty proud of it! I’ll tell you what, though. The skill set it takes to make a shirt from a printed pattern is NOT the same skill set it takes to make a quilted bag. Yes, I know. I can hear you thinking it. But it’s a bag! How hard can it be? This entire bag was a step by step learning experience. I learned how to make the bag by watching this video. The company that hosts this and MANY others is Missouri Star Quilt Company. I cannot say enough about these videos, btw. Jenny, the host, is one of my favorites. She doesn’t assume you know anything. but never once talks down to you or in a snooty tone. (Yes, there are some of those out there in video land, too.) Every single step is laid out and performed right in front of you, including the sewing itself. For a novice like myself, I love that and it was a huge help as I made my bag.
So for the other novices out there, here are some tips I learned along the way.
1. If you watch the video, you’ll see that Jenny places the top down on a layer of batting, which is not to be confused with fusible interfacing, (guess how I know that?) and does NOT trim the batting before starting her sewing. She sews lines, lengthwise up and down the panel to give it an even more quilted look. I thought she only left all that batting sticking out the sides just because she didn’t get around to it and would do it later. WRONG! I trimmed mine all nice and neat. It turns out that as you sew, the batting pulls in a tiny bit. By the time I got to the far side, I had an inch of material and no batting. I trimmed the material, but it made it just a little off in the finished product. It’s only really noticeable if you point it out or the person looking is a real quilting guru.
2. It’s a lot harder to use those cutting grids and rotary tools than it looks. They make it look so easy on the videos, but neither are all that easy. The rotary tends to want to roll all over the fabric. The grid tends to slip no matter how much you lean on it. Usually right at the end of your cut. And does anyone really know what all those lines mean on those grids? It felt like I was looking at something Sheldon Cooper would have on his white board in the apt.
3. There is something called Charm packs. (Where do these quilters get their names? charm packs, jelly rolls, honey buns, layer cakes, fat quarters, pastry rolls. I mean seriously? I think quilters are frustrated bakers. anyway…) The charm packs are pre-cut squares that are all the same size (5″). In the video, the host used those. I had to cut my squares. I would suggest not picking material with obvious patterns. Getting a straight, squared off, level block is not easy. And I think they make some of those patterns off just to mess with your head. How can you match up every point of the pattern and still have it come out crooked? I tell you its a conspiracy.
4. Straps. They just don’t work out like they do in the video. Stripes of stitching on a lovely flat laying strap when Jenny does it? Not on mine! It pushed the material along like a snowplow in New England. Next time I’ll leave the batting out of the straps. Or buy webbing. Or something.
But there is something wonderful feeling about putting that last bit of stitching; turning it all rightside out (another thing she makes look way easier than it really is, btw) and tucking all the parts where they belong. It feels good knowing you plugged your way through so many new skills and learned so much that will make the next one much easier.
So this is my bag. My first quilted bag. It may have its flaws and idiosyncrasies, but I’m quite proud of it. Now to get working on the next one!