Apologies for my long absence. I have been dealing with some health issues all winter. For anyone who is waiting to hear the rest of my conclusions and analysis of the Duffle pattern, please stay tuned – I have more feedback on both the pattern and my personal hacks. I’m hoping to finally get back into the sewing room and back on the blog after Passover.



Doctor Who Duffle #1 Progress

So, an update on my Swoon Dallas bags.

I cut out all the pieces for both bags. Fused all the interfacing and fusible fleece. Basically, got everything prepped.

Then I was crazy busy for a few weeks. I sat down this week and tried to get through as much as possible. I’m traveling to visit my parents next week, and I know I’ll never finish both bags in time. I’m trying to at least finish the smaller one.

Lots of new techniques in this pattern.

This is my first time ever sewing this style of zipper pocket.


This tutorial was very helpful: http://swoonpatterns.com/tutorial-vertical-zippered-pocket/


Also my first time sewing with either piping or webbing, which seems to be going really smoothly so far.


I saw a tip about putting clear nail polish on the cut ends of the webbing to stop them from fraying, so I may try that if it gives me any trouble. Most of the webbing ends will be covered by sewing – I’m thinking of the adjustable strap here.


I decided I really wanted the height of the medium bag but the length of the small for my smaller bag. I was trying to get similar dimensions to that of a travel bag I already own. Basically, I’m following all the Medium instructions other than to cut the widths for the Small size.

I saw a tip on the Swoon FB group to cut your lining pieces 2.5% smaller (about 1/4″ all the way around) so that the lining sits better inside the exterior.

I also decided to modify the pattern by adding an end pocket on one end of the smaller bag. Again, I found some help in the FB group.


Anyway, I’m really pleased so far with both the instructions and how everything is working up!



Fabric Bin Tutorial Reviews

I’ve been on a fabric bin kick lately, and I’ve tried out two free tutorials. I thought I’d post my critiques & modifications here. Discworld books are mass market paperback and added to show scale.

1 Hour Basket

I made 2 of these with slight differences. The main one being that I was trying to use up leftover pieces of needle-punched batting, so I didn’t order the fusible fleece for these. Instead I pre-quilted 2 pieces with the batting. I also added different amounts of Pellon SF101 to each bin.

Bin #1

The pine tree & owl bin.

I switched the fleece to the lining. I lightly quilted it to the owl fabric. The pine trees got fused to SF101. The bin stands up very well when full, but it’s slightly floppy when empty. The handles are soft and floppy.

Bin #2

The woodland creature bin.

I used SF101 on all four body pieces and the handles. Then I lightly quilted the batting to the exterior pieces. As you can see from the pictures, this bin stands up very well even when empty. The handles also stick up which is great for grabbing them easily – not so great if you want to slide the bin into a cubby that is the height of the basket.


Overall, I like the size of this basket for storing books, lotions, cords, or other medium sized items. It works up easily and I would make it again. I found it to be a bit soft as written, and I definitely prefer with the added interfacing, but alternatively you could make it in a fabric that is heavier than quilting cotton.

Sturdy Fabric Basket

Bin #1

Groovy circles

The outer fabric on this one is a heavy quilting  weight organic cotton. The lining is a very thin quilting cotton (it was a Joann Fabrics fat quarter). I had trouble getting the fold-over border to stay straight while I was sewing it.

Bin #2

Star of David

This one I added a pocket to before sewing the interior and exterior together. Both of the fabrics were a standard weight quilting cotton, and I had a much easier time with the border.


Overall, I like the size of this basket for a catch all bin – we use one of these in the hall for keys, coupons, scissors, pen, and tape (for opening packages and packaging things up for mailing). It works up very quickly, and I would make it again. It’s nicely stiff.

The trickiest thing about it is the finishing on the fold-over border. They key here is to not use a thinner quilting cotton, but a nice mid-weight or heavy quilting cotton.

I also recommend NOT using an oven mitt to protect your hand while pressing. You can get bad steam burns doing this. The method I used was to stuff the bin with folded hand towels until packed firmly, then drape a pressing cloth over the area I was working on before ironing.



In the Works: Doctor Who Duffle, etc

So, it’s my birthday (yay!), and my gift this year was Swoon Dallas and all the supplies necessary to make it (Spoiler alert: I’m making 2 of them).

I have big plans.

Exterior for Medium size:DSCN1774

Interior for medium size:


Royal blue piping, black cotton webbing straps, and nickel hardware:

Exterior for Small:


Interior will be a coordinating solid. Piping will be charcoal grey and hardware will be identical to the medium bag.

While I’m waiting for all the supplies to arrive, I’m trying out a few fabric bin tutorials. In the past I’ve made the 1 hour basket tutorial and I have the pieces cut for a second one:

I also plan to try out the Sturdy Fabric Basket and sewspire’s divided organizer. Let me know in the comments if any of you have favorite fabric basket/bin tutorials.


Quilted Tote-torial: Part 3.

Part 3: Sewing bag body & finishing

Sew interior.

Read carefully before sewing.

Trace and cut 2.5″ squares from the two bottom corners of each lining and exterior panel.

Center pocket layers across bottom edge of one lining panel, right sides together. Place second lining panel on top, right side facing in and pin all layers. Sew across bottom using 1/2″ seam, starting and stopping 1/2″ in from edges.

This will allow you to fold back the edge to sew the sides as follows:

Fold down side of square cutout to line up with the bottom edge of the bag lining & finger press. Line up top of square cutout to line up with the side of the cutout and the bottom edge of the bag lining & finger press. Pin. Repeat with second corner. Flip over and repeat on the other side.

Pin sides as shown below. Green pins indicate pinned corners. Sew using 1/2″ seam, stopping 1/2″ in from bottom edge.


Pin & sew corners using 1/2″ seam.

Turn right side out as shown below.


Sew exterior.

Pin as shown below. This is where you will add your #10 key loops as well. Pin your key loops between the orange and white pins interior loops or between the green and orange pins for exterior loops. Shown below is one key loop pinned for an exterior loop.

Note: Now is also the time to add any optional clips or key rings to your key loop.


I made a mistake and pinned both of mine for the exterior instead of the interior and am debating taking apart the bag to fix it.

Use a different color pin to mark the center 5-6″ of the bottom edge, as you will not be sewing this portion. Sew sides and approximately 3.5″ on each end of the bottom edge using 1/2″ seam.File_002(3)


Pin & sew corners using 1/2″ seam.

Sew interior & exterior together.

There are 2 ways to do this. I found it most comfortable to have the exterior right side out and the interior inside out with the exterior in one side of the divider like this:


I pinned one side, and sewed it using 1/2″ seam, then put the exterior into the other side of the divider and repeated the process.

You can also have the interior right side out with the exterior inside out around it like this:


Either way, pin & sew using 1/2″ seam making sure both straps are inside the bag and not caught in the seam.

This is what you’ll have when you are done.



Turn bag right side out through the bottom of the exterior.

Pin and sew bottom opening shut using 1/8″ seam.


Grab bag by handles and straighten so that exterior and interior are fully seated together. Press and topstitch 1/4″ seam around top edge of bag. Trim or weave in any remaining threads.


And you are finished!


Quilted Tote-torial: Part 2.

Part 2: Quilting panels, sewing straps and zipper.

Quilt Main Exterior Panels.

Because you are quilting without a backing, it is not essential to use a walking foot unless you prefer that. Personally, I use a 1/4″ piecing foot for my straight line quilting on bags, and I maybe pull out the FMQ foot if I decide to do a more interesting design.

It is VERY important that you use a cotton batting if you are machine quilting here. I have found that poly batting without a backing will get snagged on the sewing machine quite frequently. At best, you’ll need to unscrew the panel and clean out your machine after each panel. At worst, you could damage your machine or your fabric.

For my panels I used straight line quilting for the entire thing. I simply drew diagonal lines with a washable fabric chalk pencil & fabric ruler before I began and buried and knotted any extra ends when I was done.

After quilting, trim any excess batting and thread from edges.


Sew straps.

Sew fabric loops #10 closed along pressed edges 1/8″ seam. Repeat with #9 for regular straps.

regular strap sewn

Wide straps: Sew along pinned edge 1/4″ seam. Press seam open. Turn right side out and press so that seam runs down center back of each strap. If using longer straps for knot detail, tie a single knot centered on strap.

For both types of strap, take one #4 piece and one strap and pin strap 3.5″ in from each edge as shown. Take another #4 piece and place face down, removing pins one at a time and using them to pin through entire fabric sandwich. Repeat with second strap. Sew using 1/2″ seam.

sew strap1

sew strap2

sew strap 3Sew straps to quilted panels as shown below using 1/4″ seam.

strap outer pinned


Repeat for second quilted piece and strap.

Install Pocket Zipper.

Unzip zipper halfway, then trim to 12″ (make sure your zip toggle is inside of the margins before cutting). Line up two #11 pieces covering 3/4″ on each end of the zipper wrong sides together as pictured below. Pin and sew using 1/8″ seam.

Take one pocket lining and lay it face up. Place zipper face up, lined up with the top edge. Cover with one pocket exterior and pin. Repeat for other side.




Sew using a 1/4″ seam. You can hand sew, use a zipper foot, or use a 1/4″ piecing foot. (For the last option simply unzip the zipper, sew to the halfway mark, zip the zipper all the way, and resume sewing.)

Repeat on other side of zipper for second pocket lining and exterior.

Press open, trim edges & topstitch using 1/8″ seam.


…to be continued…


Quilted Tote-torial: Part 1.

Part 1: Supplies, Cutting, & Prepping. Minimal Sewing.



  • Fabric Option 1 (3 color tote):
    • Fabric A (main exterior) – 1/2 yard quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric B (base exterior, contrast accent interior & straps) – 1/2 yard quilting cotton.
    • Fabric C (contrast accent exterior & lining) – 1 yard quilting cotton.
  • Fabric Option 2 (4 color tote):
    • Fabric A (main exterior) – 1/2 yard quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric B (base exterior) – 1/4 yard or 1 fat quarter quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric C (contrast accent) – 1/4 yard or 1 fat quarter quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric D (lining & straps) – 1 yard quilting cotton.
  • Pellon SF101 fusible interfacing – 3 yards (20″ width).
  • The Warm Company Warm And Natural Cotton Needled Batting 34″x45″ (NOTE: this is enough for two quilted totes). Or 2 large cotton batting scraps that can be cut down to 17″x17″. NOTE: Do not use polyester batting for this project. This will be discussed more in depth in Part 2 of the tutorial.
  • A YKK® 12 inch (or longer) #3 nylon coil closed bottom zipper – or other brand. Coats & Clark makes a comparable zipper.
  • Optional: any purse tack you wish to add to your key loops such as the 16x30mm swivel lobster clasp that I added on my second bag.
  • Coordinating thread.
  • Tools – Every sewist has tools that they prefer, but these are the tools (besides my sewing machine & iron) that I used during this project:


Start by pressing all of your fabrics.


NOTE: Fabrics listed are for Option 1. For Option 2 fabrics cut (#1, #5, #10) from Fabric A, (#3) from Fabric B, (#2, #4) from Fabric C, (#6, #7, #8, #9, #11) from Fabric D. After cutting, pieces will be referred to by their numbers so that the instructions are interchangeable for either Option 1 or 2.

  1. (2) 17″ x 10″ (Fabric A)
  2. (2) 17″ x 2″ (Fabric C)
  3. (2) 17″ x 6″ (Fabric B)
  4. (4) 17″ x 2″ (Fabric B)
  5. (2) 12″ x 8″ (Fabric A)
  6. (2) 12″ x 6.5″ (Fabric B)
  7. (2) 12″ x 14″ (Fabric C)
  8. (2) 17″ x 17″ (Fabric C)
  9. (2) 5″ x 34″ (Fabric C) add 2″ on length for knot detail on wide straps
  10. (2) 2″ x 5″ (Fabric A)
  11. (4) 2″ x 1.5″ (Fabric A)

From your interfacing cut the following pieces. Instructions given are to ensure maximum usage from yardage. If you cut pieces in a different order, you may run out/need more.

  1. Make (4) 17″ cuts. Set aside remaining yardage. Trim these cuts to (4) 17″ x 17″ squares.
  2. Trim leftover 17″ x 3″ strips to (4) 17″ x 2″ rectangles.
  3. Make a 34″ cut. Cut (2) 5″ x 34″ strips from this.
  4. Cut 10″ strip into (2) 10″ x 14″ rectangles. From remaining 20″ x 6″ cut (2) 2″ x 14″ strips

From batting: cut (2) 17″ x 17″ squares.

And this is what you should have when you are finished:

Piecing exterior panels & exterior pocket panels.

Main Panel: Using 1/4″ seam, line up #1 and #2 with right sides together and sew. If using a directional print for main fabric, be sure that #2 is lined up along the bottom of the print. Do the same for #2 and #3. Repeat for second panel.

Pocket Panel: Using 1/4″ seam, piece #5 to #6 in the same manner. Repeat for second panel.

Press seams open on all panels.


Fusing interfacing.

For this step you will need an ironing board, an iron, and a pressing cloth.

Fuse interfacing to the following pieces according to the instructions that come with your interfacing: Main panel, Pocket panel, #4, #8, and #9. For the pocket panel use the 10″x 14″ interfacing rectangles alongside the 2″ x 14″ strips.


After fusing your interfacing, trim any little bits of interfacing along the edges and corners that stick out past your fabric. Flip your fabric back to right side up and press with very light steam from the center out to the edges to get rid of any wrinkles or bubbles.



Finishing prep.

Straps, key loops, zipper ends, and pin basting.

Pin baste exterior bag panels to cotton batting.


Regular straps: Press each strap #9 in half the long way, then press in sides to meet the line created by original pressing. Press in half again (pictured: straps from draft 1 of this design).


Wide straps: Pin each strap #9 inside out along the long edge.


Repeat method for Regular straps with key loops #10.

Press edges on zipper ends #11 in 1/2″ along one 1 1/2″ edge.

pressed 1

…to be continued…