My new go-to everyday bag

Every day, I take a 5-ish kilometer walk around the lake near my apartment. Craftin’ can involve a lot sittin’, I’m sure you know, and you need something to fight that. I’ve started going first thing in the morning so it’s nice and quiet and, most days, it’s a lovely walk. Just me and an audiobook or some musics and the sunshine (sometimes – this is Holland, after all).

My sittin' spot

If it is a sunny day, I’m usually about 10 seconds from completely melting by the time I get to this point. This here is my Sittin’ Spot – another reason I like going in the morning, this spot is very rarely taken that early. You can’t really see it here, but nearly the whole other side of the lake is in direct sunlight. That sounds lovely, but can be a bit much on a really bright day. This is the perfect spot to stop for ten or fifteen minutes and enjoy the breeze. (As you can see, I share my spot with a family of … some kind of birds. But that’s ok, we all mind our own business and get along just fine.)

Because I have much common sense, I always take a bottle of water with me, and some band-aids and whatnot. The usual always-in-your-bag stuff. And my iPod. Also a couple of notebooks for ideas. And often an umbrella (this is Holland, after all). Every single day, I throw all that stuff into my new very favorite go-to bag for everyday stuff.

Reversible Tote

This is the Reversible Bag from the ridiculously skilled Very Purple Person. I did a test version first with some adorable Ikea fabric (photos here) before I cut into this beautiful Tanya Whelan fabric (from the Dolce line). I knew I wanted to use those two fabrics for a summer handbag, but I’d originally envisioned something small – similar to the Buttercup bag (of which I have made many), but slouchier. I only bought a quarter meter of each, figuring that’d be plenty to patchwork into something small and cute. Of course I ran into the Reversible Bag after that and loved it. What’s not to love? It’s got the simplest possible construction and all kinds of understated style with that lovely rounded bottom.

Reversible Tote Detail

Construction was basically as you’d expect, patchworking the Dolce fabrics into one side, cutting the other from an Amy Butler Love print that somehow worked very nicely with the others. The only thing worth noting about my method was that I had a very particular sense of what I wanted it to feel like. It had to be slouchy like a tote, but squishy for some reason, and sturdy enough to feel substantial. The squishy was easily achieved with a layer of ordinary quilt batting, stitched to the patchwork side. Rather than interfacing which can make things kind of crunchy, I added a fourth layer of Ikea cotton canvas. I have a stash of bargain bin Ikea fabrics that I’m not likely to ever use as a feature fabric but come in incredibly useful for this sort of thing. I read this as a tip somewhere – to use canvas instead of interfacing; I’ve never been able to track down where, but it’s been a winner for me several times.

Reversible Tote Slouchin'

This bag is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made – it’s the perfect size, extremely durable with so few seams, and infinitely customizable. I take it absolutely everywhere and it’s good for pretty much any occasion. I have a feeling there will be many more of these in my future.

Ch. 1: In which I write my first post and take the Process Pledge

After a week of pondering the topic of my very first post here, it was suggested by a very wise friend that I should just write it already. Don’t make it a momentous occassion, don’t try to find something deep to say. She was right – I decided to just jump in and show you what I’m making right now.

Dresden Plate pieces

But wait one second – let me stop here real quick, before I get into any details, and take The Process Pledge. Like the hundreds of other blog writers that have linked back to that post by Rossie, I agree that it would nice – and beneficial – to share more about why we make the crafting decisions we make. Yes, that pledge originally referred only to quilting, and this will not be a strictly quilting blog. But I take this pledge and apply it to all topics covered here. Over the past several years, I have learned so much just from reading about why someone chose the materials they did, or why they used a certain technique, or simply how they came to pick the colors they did. Where possible, I want to contribute, and I pledge now to do my best.

The Process Pledge

It’s only been in the last few months that I started learning about quilting – mostly by reading trusted bloggers – and trying things out for myself. Somewhere along the way, I saw a Dresden Plate and was smitten but afraid of trying one for myself. It looked like you really needed years of skillz before you could try that. And then I saw Oh, Fransson’s tutorial at Sew, Mama, Sew! – she made it look so easy. Dude, I could totally do that!

I knew immediately that I wanted to use my 1930s reproduction fabrics. Because I love ’em. Not much of a reason, but it’s true, and fitting since the Dresden Plate was a popular pattern in the 30s. My initial plan was to pick out pinks and blues in order to have my little mini-quilt match a painting that hangs in my bedroom, but in the end I just picked all my favorites. Because I love ’em. If it looks nice next to the painting, that’s where it will hang. If it doesn’t, there’s plenty of places it will – I’d rather make something I love than something that just matches. I reduced the template pieces a bit to make use of jelly roll strips, cut all those little wedges, and sewed up all those tiny points. By hand.

Dresden Plate start

Oh, did I not mention? I’m currently in a location with no sewing machine access. I’ll be reunited with my trusty machines soon, but for now, it’s all by hand, all the time. For me, this is not a problem – I actually find sewing by hand to be relaxing. I feel like I’m always trying to get a million things done, and always trying to get them done faster. Machine sewing lends itself to getting things stitched up as quickly as possible but, by hand, I can only go as fast as I can go. There’s no point rushing, it’s a slow activity and that’s just how it is. It’s nice to take your time sometimes. So I patiently stitched all the wee wedges together into a lovely circle. It turns out it wasn’t so intimidating after all.

Dresden Plate backing

My plate spent some time pinned to the uncut backing fabric, taped to the wall with masking tape. Classy. I just couldn’t figure out what to next. A lot of pinning and taking down ensued, mostly just resulting me getting really frustrated and not wanting to look at it at all. Finally I turned to the amazing Quilt Explorer and took inspriration from a few original 1930s quilts. I noticed several with borders of very thin strips pieced together. I cut a million tiny rectangles and the plate suffered a few very unfortunate mock-ups that I sadly don’t have photos of, until we finally worked something out.

Dresden Plate pinned layout

I love those tiny strip borders, so meticulously pieced together, but it was just too wide and distracting for a mini-quilt like this (the plate itself is 11″ across). Fed up, I rotated all those little rectangles as a last-ditch effort and, viola!, it worked. You might notice the right and bottom border strips are sewn, though not yet ironed. When the other two sides are done, I’ll tape it to the wall again and start the process over to decide what’s next.

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