Patchwork Bags from Leftover Fabrics

fabric stack

On my last post, I wrote about my first attempt at a large-scale quilt and shared my excitement for the Color Wheel Quilt pattern and the fabric bundle I purchased that is cut specifically for the project from Purl Soho. (Check out these beautiful, mouth-watering photos of the shop, from a blog, Diary of a Quilter by Amy Smart.)

In addition to the wonderful variety of colors and designs included in the bundle, I was blown away by how generous these fabrics were cut (they are in fat quarter measurements at 9″ x 22″). Each piece is large enough to make at least two color wheel wedges, with at last 8″ x 8″ of leftover fabrics that can be used for smaller (or as part of a larger) projects.

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While cutting the Color Wheel wedges, I cut an extra set, with a plan to maybe make a second quilt. But I had an idea to turn these fabrics into patchwork bags that I often encounter on the blogosphere.

These crescent-shaped bags seem to be a staple in the crafting community (a similar pattern is available in a Japanese book, 「ミシンだから楽しいの。」(“Mishin Dakara Tanoshiino”), now translated into English, Patchwork Style) and I’ve been dying to make them myself for years. These wedges were perfect!

I had 52 wedges and each bag panel requires eight, so I was able to make six panels (total three bags) and use up 48 of the 52 panels!  Here are the bags I made!

Bag #1: Pink and Blue

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This is my favorite among the three bags I made. I wasn’t 100% sure about combining pink and blue fabrics at first, without adding some greens or yellows to balance them out, but I really like how it came out. I think the dark polka dots and the hummingbird designs helped marry the colors together.

I made several bag straps but settled on this brown polka dots fabric by Echino (one of my favorites). The other ones came out a bit frumpy but this one is sturdy and makes the bag look a little more refined.

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I wanted to keep with the theme and incorporate pink and blue hues on the back as well.  You can’t see here but each bag has a lining with a coordinating fabric, small pocket to hold keys and little knick knacks, and a magnetic closure to snap the bags closed. For this bag, I used a gray linen by Robert Kaufman for the lining and I love it!

Bag #2: Christmas in August

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This bag is so not me, but in a wonderful way. Red is my least favorite color in the color spectrum but I loved the designs of these fabrics so much that I had to not only use them up but showcase them in a bold way. I even surprised myself with the selection of a moss green fabric for the strap. I wasn’t sure what to think of this panel at first, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Strange, I know! Red and green – maybe I already have Christmas on my mind, in the middle of hot August.

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I played it safe and used green and yellow fabrics for the back panel. I used Amy Butler Lotus Geisha Fan Clay cotton for the lining, and Echino for the straps.

Bag #3: Sweet Pastel

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I really like this pastel blue and yellow combination!  (I didn’t even finish top-stitching the bag but had to take pictures before it got too dark!  redface)  I wish I had a list of all the fabric designers and names so I can get more of them.

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The back panel is orange and yellow combination.  The lining is Amy Butler Coriander in pink, and the straps are Echino.

I’m thinking about posting these bags on Etsy in the next days or so.  Please stay tuned!

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In Progress: Color Wheel Quilt

My current obsession: Patchwork quilts!

I spent an afternoon at my parent’s house over the weekend and got inspired by seeing and touching the lovely patchwork quilts my mother has made over the years. I think she has more than 30 completed large scale projects, some hung proudly on the living room walls while many slept in her closet.

I had no interest in anything needles and fabrics while living under my parent’s roof but I have a deeper appreciation for her mad skills, now that my sewing and patchwork antennas are way, way up.  It took me thirty-some years but I’ve finally arrived at the door of the quilting world, and I’m now ready to open up the door and walk right in!

(I hope the world will be kind to this newbie.)

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After looking through patchwork books and blogs for inspiration, I decided on the Color-Wheel Quilt from the book, Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Purl Soho’s Joelle Hoverson to be my first project. It was a perfect time to give the fabric bundle that I picked up from my favorite yarn / fabric store in New York City a go after a few years of being completely ignored and forgotten.

I was incredibly pleased to find that putting the color wheel together was a piece of rainbow-colored cake. I think the most time-consuming part was actually washing, drying, and ironing each of the 52 fabric pieces! I was able to cut and sew together all the pieces in just a few of hours. I think the more difficult part will come in a little later when I put the whole thing together (which I’ll do, as soon as I order a white fabric and a batting) but until then, I’m going to enjoy the fact that my first quilt project is finally in the works.

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By the way, the fabric bundle cut specifically for this project is a real steal! Each fabric piece is large enough to make at least two of the color wheel wedges, and still have a plenty of stash left for other smaller projects. I cut out an extra set of wedges and am currently using them to make patchwork bags. I’ll post some pictures once they’re done!

I’m so happy that tomorrow is Fridaaaaay!

Mottainai

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I’m still not very skilled at cutting fabrics, so I’m usually left with wasteful scraps when I’m done with a project. A clean and organized part of me thinks I should throw them away to eliminate clutter, while the other, more thrifty hoarder side of me thinks these little scraps should be reincarnated into something new. I think the Japanese “mottainai” (「もったいない」, translates roughly to “don’t waste it”) philosophy is so deeply embedded in my nature that it’s very difficult for me to part with things. Case in point, I finally got rid of yeeeeeeeeeears’ worth of plastic utensils just the other day.

Thus the predicament …

Now that Pon Pon is rolling around and is almost ready to crawl, it’s time for some serious overhaul at the Lavender and Olive household. This means getting rid of pretty much everything in the house (including fabric stashes) to ensure the baby’s safety and make room for her to play around.

Keep or not to keep the stash, that is the question …

Then I remembered the patchwork drawstring bag tutorial that my favorite craft blog, Pink Penguin, posted a few years back and decided to turn the scraps into these little cute bags …

… and here they are! biggrin

drawsting bags

I’m definitely going to use one to put Pon Pon’s change of clothes in her diaper bag, and others to wrap small gift for friends!

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My current fabric obsessions are Liberty of London and Kokka but you can tell by looking at these patches that I was incredible smitten by Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry’s nature-inspired designs!

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I love these Midwest Martini designs by Amy Butler!

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Look, even the cord casing is a patchwork!

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I still have lots more of the fabric stashes that’ll soon turn into lovely bags. It’s no joke – someone’s trash can be someone’s treasure! I think my “mottainai” goddess is really happy.

Handmade Patchwork Bag

I love the look of patchwork.  You can tell when you look at the finished product that someone put lots of love and time into making the special piece – from fabric selections to the actual patching of pieces together.  It’s a thing of beauty.

But, boy, it’s hard work!  Maybe I lack the attention to detail, but I often find myself sewing these little pieces together, only to find out that I miscalculated the measurement and the pieces come out way off.  There’s nothing more disappointing than realizing that two patchwork panels that you were supposed to put together for a bag, for instance, don’t fit perfectly on top of each other!

I have so much respect for quilters and other crafters, who have the patience and the skillful hands to put together amazing masterpieces.

Runners put on running shoes and hit the pavement to train.  I, the patchwork rookie, got out a rotary cutter and a ruler to hone my cutting and sewing skills.  I wasn’t ready to take on a complicated project (I have to work up to that) so I decided to make a simple, nine-square patchwork bag over the weekend.  My goal was to take my time and cut each piece precisely, and sew it together with love and care, with an extra dose of patience.

I didn’t use a pattern for this bag but it was inspired by Pink Penguin’s Patchwork Drawstring Bag tutorial. (By the way, Ayumi’s new book called “Patchwork, Please!” will be released on April 2013!  OMG, I cannot wait to get my hands on her amazing patterns!)

Instead of using 16 pieces (a total of 32 for both panels), I used nine on each side, with each piece measuring 3-1/2 inches x 3-1/2 inches (for ¼ inch sewing allowance).

I used Echino‘s polka dots fabrics — the same ones that I used for the Lunch Bag I made a while back.

I was incredibly happy when I saw that these edges aligned perfectly! What a feeling!

Here’s the finished project! I put a cotton batting in between for a softer feel. Instead of a drawstring, I put a little magnetic closure inside, and turned the strap adjustable.