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Overcome Your Fear of Sewing a Bag!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 11:21 AM

Maker Kaitlin Downs

For any of you quilters out there who want to venture into bag making, but don't know where to start.. this post is just for you! 
If you're anything like I used to be, the idea of making a bag or purse probably scares the heck out of you! When you think of sewing something three dimensional you may begin to break out in a cold sweat, feel flushed in the face, or even lose all mental function.
However, don't fear! I am here today to change everything you've ever thought you knew about basic bag making. It is not scary. It doesn't require a whole new skill set from quilting. And most importantly, you don't need to be afraid to give it a try! 

The three most important things to remember when beginning any sewing project, but especially when making a bag:
  1. Read through all instructions before you start, including general instructions which often include important information about seam allowances, finishing instructions, and tips to help your finished product be the best it can be.
  2. Prep all fabrics, interfacings, and other required materials before you begin any sewing. This includes pressing/ironing all fabrics, cutting according to pattern directions, properly labeling all pieces (this is HUGE!), and fusing any interfacings with their appropriate fabric pairs.
  3. Lastly, take your time! This is where I struggle the most because once I start a project it's hard for me to take a break. I just want to get it done, NOW! However, just like in any project, rushing through can lead to incorrect cuts, skipping important steps, and not being happy with your finished project. If you mess up or skip a step, take the time to correct your mistake before proceeding! I cannot stress this point enough. Keep your seam ripper very close, it will be your best friend!
Now that you have those important reminders in your head, it's time to begin your project! You'll want to be sure your first attempt at bag making is one that is simple enough you will be able to comfortably complete it. However, don't skimp on the pattern! There are many free resources online that provide bag patterns, but not all patterns are made equally. 
For your first project, I recommend purchasing a pattern from a reputable designer that has pictures and detailed descriptions. My favorite beginner bag pattern is the Fiji Tote from Pink Sand Beach Designs. This pattern has tons of easy to follow pictures, very specific instructions, and it doesn't have any zippers or hardware (except an optional snap closure). It also features tips to make your bag the best it can be!
Once you've decided on a bag pattern, selecting your fabrics and interfacings is the next step. For the Fiji Tote, there is a total of six fabrics to choose. Most importantly, make sure your fabrics coordinate and have good contrast. For example, you wouldn't want to use all light fabric on the outer body of the bag because you wouldn't see the contrasting stripes as much. Don't be afraid to pull from your stash, as long as you have the required amount of yardage!
Choosing the proper interfacings is equally as important the fabric selection. This is what will give your bag stability and shape. The Fiji Tote gives great recommendations for interfacings! For a very sturdy bag that keeps its shape even when empty, I would suggest a foam interfacing like By Annie's Soft & Stable or Pellon Flex-Foam (FF79F2 or FF78F1). For a stable, yet flexible bag that will fold up nicely but still retain its shape, I would suggest using a fusible fleece or fusible batting such as Pellon Fusible Fleece (973F) or Bosal Fusible Batting (Style #325). For your pocket interfacings and other inner pieces, I would suggest Pellon Fusible Midweight (931TD) or Pellon Decor-bond (809).

Once you've chosen your fabrics and interfacings, its prep time! I cannot stress how important it is to read carefully and label all your pieces in this step. I promise you will thank me later if you label your pieces, instead of thinking "I'll remember which piece that is."

Now that you've prepped and labeled everything, it's time to start sewing. Remember this is supposed to be enjoyable! Take a deep breath before you begin and give yourself a little pep talk. You can do this! You've already done most of the leg-work in prepping and now all you have to do is sew. Remember to go step-by-step and take your time.

That's it! Now that you've sewn through all of the steps of the pattern you should have a gorgeous, new bag! If you made the Fiji Tote, then your mind is probably thinking of all the amazing combinations of fabrics you can come up with for this bag. It is one of the most versatile bags, and it looks so different with different fabrics!

Once you've mastered the technique, the possibilities are literally ENDLESS! Change the dimensions, add an eye-catching feature to the main panel, change up the strap options, varry your pockets, and so much more! Below are my favorite pictures of the Fiji Tote, and the maker is listed below each picture.
Made by Quilting Mayhem
Made by Katrina Hamer

Made by Keepsake Quilting
Unknown maker
Image from Annie's Catalogue

Image from Annie's Catalogue

Have you made a Fiji Tote? If so we'd love to see your pictures! Post them in the comments below or email them to us at info@ascarletthread.com.

Funky, Fun, & Not Too Serious...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 11:19 AM

Do you ever feel like life is just too serious? That you want to laugh more? That art doesn't have to be complicated? It's fun to think outside your box, beyond traditional patterns, and challenge your creativity for a little bit of "funky."


It isn't just about looking at the photos and marveling about the creativity, though. I've stumbled across some fun techniques, such as the quilted feathers tutorial, and unique approaches to creating these works of art, too. I was really intrigued by the "Parts Department" concept described for the Abstract Houses quilt, which is made up of quilt blocks in various sizes, styles and colors, blended with black and white elements. Who doesn't have a myriad assortment of orphan blocks that never seem to be useful? I know I do! Wouldn't this be a great challenge idea! Who's up for it?

Until next time...Life is short. Buy the fabric!


Spring Cleaning = Scrap Happy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 4:55 PM

As many of you may know, I (Kaitlin) will be relocating to Roanoke, Virginia at the end of the week to answer God's calling on my life. Thanks to the amazing staff here at AST, especially Ken & Karen, I will still be working virtually from Virginia! I will still be sending out weekly newsletters, updating social media, and working on our new website. 
You might be wondering why I'm telling you all this, but there is a reason! While packing my sewing room up, I decided to use the opportunity to do some spring cleaning. Since it's in the 70's outside, you can spring clean in February, right? Anyway, I am not ashamed to admit, I am a hoarder of scraps. Especially Bonnie & Camille scraps! I just can't stand to throw away those little cuties! 
So since I've had so much spare time on my hands lately (NOT!!!), I have been scouring Pinterest for the best scrappy quilts I can find! Lucky you, I have decided to share my favorites with you today. (:

Scrappy Quilted Tote Bag from A Bright Corner
Kawaii Scrappy Trip Along from Mochi Studios


Scrappy Bookshelf Quilt from The Last Piece


Postage Stamp 2 from My Purple Patch


Scrappy Fence Rail from KatyQuilts


String Quilt by Crazy Mom Quilts


Quilter's Cookbook - Fall/Winter Edition

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 10:54 AM

Who doesn't love a good recipe? 
I know I do! 
What would be even better than a list of all of our favorite recipes in one place? 
A quilt pattern inspired by the recipe to go along with it! 
Just simply click on the recipe name to be taken to the recipe.
Veggie Soup and Crackers Quilt Pattern (Exclusively at AST)

Blueberry Hill Quilt Pattern by Villa Rosa Designs
Milky Way Quilt Pattern by Thangles
Sloppy Joes Apron Pattern by Abbey Lane

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Trio Pattern by Indigo Junction

Lemon Chicken Pasta Bake
Lemon Squeeze Cardigan by Snapdragon Studios

Tips, Tricks, & Tutorials to Keep You Quilting Your Best

Thursday, November 10, 2016 11:04 AM


Whether you're a seasoned quilter or you're just starting out, you can never get enough tips, tricks, and tutorials to help you out. We've put together a list of resources to help you become the best quilter you can be!

Basic Quilting Supplies for All Quilters:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Fabric
  • Sewing Machine Needles
  • Sewing Thread
  • Pins and Quilting Pins
  • Batting
  • Rotary Cutting Set
  • Large Self Healing Mat
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Quarter-Inch Presser Foot
  • Plus check out this video where you can see some of these tools in action

Steps to Make a Quilt from Start to Finish:

  1. Choosing Your Fabrics & Fabric Shopping Advice from Diary of a Quilter
  2. Rotary Cutting 101 by April Rosenthal
  3. Piecing with a Quarter Inch Seam from Quilter's Diary
  4. How to Piece Quilt Blocks from Pile O' Fabric
  5. Squaring Up Quilt Blocks from The Craft Mummy
  6. Piecing Your Quilt Top from Diary of a Quilter
  7. Choosing Batting & Thread for Quilting
  8. Basting Your Quilt from We All Sew
  9. Quilting with Straight Lines or Quilting Free Motion
  10. Trimming & Squaring Up Your Quilt from Dining Room Empire
  11. Binding and Finishing from Canoe Ridge Creations

Tips & Tricks to Bring Your Quilts to the Next Level:

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