Now that the party is over, and the bag has been gifted, here’s my post on the Sew Together Bag that I made!
I came across the pattern for the Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented on Instagram because of all of the new people I found to follow (stalk?) with the Mini Quilt Swap I’d signed up for, and decided that I had to make one. There are really some amazing color/fabric combinations on Instagram, under the tag #sewtogetherbag. They could be used for anything and everything under the sun, but the bag is designed to hold sewing goodies, especially for on-the-go sewing/quilting. I’d done a bunch of poking around online looking at different color combinations that people have chosen, and came across a couple of lifesaving tutorials. The first was a “Sew Along,” originally posted March 2014 by Heather at the Quilt Barn. The written directions for the bag pattern were a little difficult to visualize for some steps, so the step-by-step photo tutorial was an amazing help. Plus, since the entire tutorial was posted, I was able to do it in about two days instead of the five she used… if you don’t count the first weekend where everything went horribly awry and I pretty much had to start over the following weekend! 🙂 The second tutorial was a modification to the zippers by AmandaJean at Crazy Mom Quilts, so that where the zipper meets the end of each pocket would look nicer, and there would be less of a chance of breaking sewing machine needles on zipper teeth. She also had some brilliant fabric combos for the bag that she shows the modification on!
I’m still hung up on what fabrics to use to make a Sew Together bag for myself (too many choices!) but when I got invited to my great-aunt’s belated 80th birthday party, I jumped on this pattern. She’s the one that got me started on English Paper Piecing back in college – I’d sent her a letter or an email simply asking what size of hexagons she’d made her Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt top from, and she sent me all of her leftover paper pieces, as well as a metal cutting template for the hexagons! I also still use the needle book and little thread scissors she gave me on nearly every project that involves any sort of hand stitching. I did some recon (via a Facebook message to one of her daughters) to find out her favorite colors, and fell in love with the Farmhouse by Fig Tree collection of fabric from Moda when I walked into the front doors of my favorite Puyallup quilt shop (The Quilt Barn… not affiliated with the blog that did the photo tutorial). All three zip pockets are lined with the same print.
I ran into a hiccup that derailed the project for a week (partly due to frustration, and partly from being sick and brain-dead anyway)… I’m still not positive if the culprit was the Pellon 101 interfacing, or the fabric itself (I didn’t pre-wash it, since I don’t foresee this project ever seeing the inside of a washing machine), but I would cut my pieces to the size specified… fuse the interfacing with the wet cloth like the directions said… and then my cut piece would turn out to be too small… by enough to make a difference in how everything was going to come together – a quarter inch or more. I finally figured out that my pieces were cut correctly to start (my first suspicion is always user error, especially when DayQuil is involved), so when I started over the following weekend, I cut everything an inch or so too large and then trimmed it down to size after the interfacing had been fused. Has anybody else ever had this problem?
Other than the shrinkage issue, the bag came together beautifully with the help of the two tutorials I followed, and my clover clips were awesome to hold the thick layers together, since some spots were thick enough to make pinning through all layers impossible. The only modification that I did on my own for this project was that instead of using my sewing machine to stitch down both sides of the binding on the sides of the bag, I sewed the first side with my machine, and then hand-stitched the binding to the other side, like when doing a quilt. I followed the tutorial for the binding across the top, though… hand stitching through zippers is a nightmare! I even (just barely) remembered to add one of my little labels to the inside of the bag!
I also made a matching needle book to go with the Sew Together bag. I’m sure my aunt already has several, but they’re awfully handy! I used Pellon 71F Peltex Ultra-Firm Stabilizer for the needle book, but if I make more, I want to try to find a way to make it even stiffer. It’s one-sided fusible, which I fused to the outside fabric, and then folded it around to the inside. It feels like cheating, but I used heavy-duty Wonder Under on the back of the fabric I used for lining, and ironed it all together! I found a nice wool-blend felt at my other favorite quilt store, Gee-Gee’s in Yelm, and used that for the “pages” of the needle book. I could swear the felt at the big-box craft stores used to be halfway decent when I was little (or maybe I’m remembering it wrong), but all the felt they carry now is garbage, so it was nice to find “the good stuff” at one of my favorite shops! Instead of adhesive velcro (like the needle book that I have) or button-and-loop closures like I’ve seen online (I’m lazy), I used a KAM snap to keep the needle book closed!
I also picked up a small packet of Clover Wonder Clips because they’re awfully handy (I have the 50-count box, myself), and even if my aunt already has some, you can never have too many. I suspect that after a while they start to disappear like bobby pins do if you’re not careful. I also got a small packet of our favorite sewing needles… or at least they were her favorite about 10 years ago! Chenille no. 24 needles are so much easier to thread than standard sewing needles, and I haven’t had any problems with the eye causing problems with the fabric, though I do have a tendency to eventually break them at the base of the eye. It just seemed wrong to have a pretty bag with tons of pockets, and gift it empty!
Now to figure out what fabrics/color scheme to use to make a Sew Together Bag for myself…!