Category Archives: Bags

2nd Sample ‘Maggie’ Bag

Front of the Maggie bag

Of the two Maxi-sized ‘Maggie’ bags, I am not sure which one I prefer. Having made this second bag using fabrics bought at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill, I can foresee that this will be very useful throughout the Spring and coming Summer months. Florals are definitely my thing! I will reserve the ‘Hares’ printed bag for use in the Autumn.

I wrote quite extensively about this bag when I first made it in the ‘Hares’ fabric so will not repeat myself. Suffice to say that having previously written up all the instructions complete with cutting plan, this bag went together very much more quickly than before. I am particularly pleased with the contrast Pink top stitching. For that I used the triple stitch feature on my machine and made the stitch length 4.5.

I have already drafted and made up the ‘medium’-sized Maggie bag which appeared on the blog sometime ago. All that now remains is to calculate and make up this style of bag in the smallest size. I still have remnants of the Blue & Beige floral linen-look fabrics so hope to be able to use them for the final project.

Reverse of the Maggie bag


After several fairly straightforward projects mostly using my Juki overlocker I decided that I should now attempt something a little more challenging and also re-visit my newest Brother 550 Special Edition sewing machine. A very good friend has a birthday coming up so the Sew Sturdy Essential Back Pack by Annie Unrein on Craftsy would seem to be an ideal project.

This stylish travel-friendly backpack has secure zipped closures and plenty of pockets to keep everything neat yet easy to access. A quick grab padded handle and adjustable straps make it easy to carry and wear. The backpack has a full zipped pocket on the back plus another inside. Two slip pockets on the side and two interior slip pockets provide easy access to water bottles, mobile phone, keys and more. The flap on the outer front pocket opens to reveal six slots for credit cards and ID.

The internal mesh pocket

The backpack measures approximately 14” high and tapers from 12” wide at bottom to 9” wide at top and 5”deep at bottom to 3” deep at top.

I decided to make the backpack in a main fabric print of Black & White ‘newsprint’ cotton with a lining of Grey floral print cotton both purchased from Fabricland. The contrasting binding was a plain Bright Red cotton came from my stash.

Using the same procedure as that for the Organiser Sewing Case I first downloaded the Craftsy lesson to my Android tablet before assembling all the ‘ingredients’ for the project. First I had to prepare and quilt two large pieces of fabric, Bosal ® and lining sandwiches with channels set 1¼ inches apart. By watching each lesson, reading the class materials and then carrying out the lesson the backpack came together over the course of three intensive sessions of sewing. Although some of the procedures are the same as those utilised for the Organiser case, I still learnt some new techniques and enjoyed the challenge of a totally new project.


Completed backpack –  Front                                   Reverse

I have delayed posting this project as it is for a good friend’s birthday and I did not want her to see the gift too soon and spoil the surprise!



Cat print Maggie Bag – Medium size

bag front   bag reverse    

As mentioned in my previous post, one of the final fabric purchases of 2016 was some fabulous cat print by Michael Miller. I have combined the quilting weight cotton with a remnant of Black corduroy that I had left over from making the dungaree dress. I have designed the Maggie bag in 3 sizes and this iteration is the Medium size. The finished size is 12” wide x 14” high x 3½“ deep.

There is not a great deal to say about the bag and its construction as the method is the same as that used for the “Maxi” size. I used a medium-weight fusible interfacing (Vilene F220) on all pieces plus some fusible Bosal ® for the main bag panels and flap. I love using this foam wadding on bags as it makes them very sturdy and able to stand open, ready to fill!

On the front there is a slip pocket that has a plastic popper closure and on the reverse a “zip and slip” pocket. The flap has a nickel twist lock. Inside I used my signature 3 panel lining that incorporates a divided slip pocket on one side and a “zip and slip” pocket on the other.

After Monday I will be making the bag available as a sample in advance of the workshop to be held in March at New Threads Quilt Shop

Sewing Plans for Spring 2017

My New Year’s Resolution – STOP buying patterns and fabric! Well I realise that I won’t be able to last an entire year without buying any fabric especially as I know that I will need to stock up on things like fusible interfacing, wadding, anti-static lining etc. But, I do need to start using up some of my stash of fabulous fabrics. In anticipation of the moratorium on fabric buying I did indulge on one of the last days of 2016 and purchase some SALE fabrics from New Threads Quilt Shop.

cat prints by michael miller

This first selection of cat prints are by Michael Miller, a favourite designer. I bought 2 metres of the White background to use as linings for bags, 1 metre each of the Red and Black background prints. I have already started work on a medium-sized Maggie bag using the Black background yardage which I will combine with some of the Black corduroy in my stash. The Red background is earmarked for a Sew Sturdy Organiser bag as designed by Annie Unrein so stand by for a mammoth quilting session. I plan to make a range of accessories in red-printed fabrics to go with my latest Brother (R) sewing machine. The organiser will be the piece de resistance!


I bought the last of this Burgundy background Chrysanthemum printed Cotton Poplin. There are a good 4 metres of fabric, plenty to make my TNT Bettina dress with full circular skirt. I will probably make the lined cap sleeves as this print is ideal to wear with a fantastic cable patterned cardigan that a good friend knitted for me last year.

mystic breeze by balson-hercules group

Again, I bought the last of this printed cotton, “Mystic Breeze” by the Balson-Hercules Group. There is enough fabric to make a 3/4 length sleeved blouse.

Reviewing just some of the purchases from 2016 that never got made up I have a length of beautiful wool blend Green-based jewel-coloured tapestry-type fabric in an Aztec-style weave that I bought from SEW OVER IT. Unfortunately, I mis-read the pricing thinking it  was per metre when it was per half-metre. I ordered 3 so have ended up with just 1.5metres x 152 cms wide. I will have to check through my patterns to find a short length coat or long-line jacket to make up this fabric – ready for the Spring.  The colour is a little more Emerald than shows in this picture below but you get the idea.

aztec tapestry wool

Also on reviewing my “recent purchases” stash I came across these two lengths that are calling to be made up. First a pretty mid-Blue floral-printed chambray/light denim fabric that I think I bought from M Rosenberg & Son when visiting the Quilt Show at Sandown Park. There is sufficient to make a button through dress to replace an ancient M&S dress that I bought about 20 years ago and is really  ready for the “cut up and recycle” bin.

floral print chambray

The second length is a very stretchy textured polyester jersey. Floral print again on a Dark Navy background. Although the fabric is very wide it is not over long but should be sufficient to make a similar tunic top to the Sparkly Sequinned Stars jersey that I made for New Year’s Eve. Whilst the overlocker is still threaded up with 4 Black threads there is a good chance that this top will be sewn sooner rather than later.

floral textured jersey

So that’s it for now. This selection of fabric is just the tip of the iceberg from my stash. Here’s hoping that I will be able to convert the quantity into quality garments.

Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser Case by Annie Unrein/

My very good friend Maureen had previously made two of these fantastic cases, one for me and another for Adrienne. Knowing that Maureen had more than enough sewing projects to complete before Christmas I knew that if there was to be one made for Joan, it would have to be me that made it.


I had purchased the lesson and pattern from quite a long time ago – just never plucked up the courage to undertake what I could see would be quite a complicated and involved project. But the desire to make a really lovely gift for Joan was sufficient to stiffen my resolve, to roll up my sleeves and get stitching!

Joan is a collector of all things “Elephant” so I originally planned to make the organiser in an Elephant print that I previously bought from Fabricland. But disappointment – no more Elephant print in the Salisbury shop. Instead I elected for an Elephant Grey background, printed with charming bouquets of flowers! There was a co-ordinating Grey spot print and that is what I used for the project. Although I knew that I had some clear vinyl in my bag-making stash – it was out in the garage store, buried under a great pile of storage boxes. It was cold and dark in the garage, I did not stay long enough to uncover the vinyl – no problem, I would purchase another length from “The Range”. Again, disappointment – no plain clear vinyl to be had. I purchased ½ metre of a simple patterned vinyl which I subsequently discovered was even better for stitching as being slightly embossed it was much easier to feed through the machine when making the pockets for the inside of the organiser. The mesh required for the outer pockets that are on the reverse of the outer front and back had posed a problem. That was until Adrienne suggested we buy laundry bags from Poundland. I cut the mesh from the bag which left the zipped bag still in one piece and the 2 mesh pieces were just the right size for the project. Result! 

First task was to check the dimensions of all the pieces and work out a cutting plan prior to quilting the various sections. After 4 hours of quilting in a 1¼ inch square grid I had all the various sections prepared. Now to get making up the case.

I had read through the written instructions and also watched the video on the website. Having “set up shop” in the dining room, I downloaded the lessons to my tablet which I stood next to the sewing machine. As each lesson was completed on the tablet, I undertook that same lesson on my sewing machine and gradually the project took shape.

vinyl pocket pages

Vinyl Pocket Pages

After three long sessions of stitching I had completed the Organiser.

pages front and back of bag

Bag Bag & Front plus pages

all parts ready for assemble

Pages,Back,Front & Sides of Bag ready for assemble

I am absolutely delighted with the result and like a Chinese meal, once finished, I immediately wanted to make another!





Bag, packed and ready to go!

However, there are still several items that I want to complete before the end of the year, the second sewing organiser will have to wait.

Gifts for the Womens’ Refuge

It has been our practice at Franklins P&Q class to exchange “Secret Santa” Christmas gifts. This year we did something different. Often at this time of year the local refuge sees an influx of women who arrive, sometimes with nothing more than what they stand up in. To help in a small way, we elected to sew some items to help. I made some toilet bags into which I put small items of cosmetics and toiletries, plus some cushions which will be placed in the rooms just to make the residents feel more comfortable. To make the bags I used remnants from previous sewing projects, lightly quilted to fusible wadding, lined with plain fabric, completed co-ordinating zip fastening and elastic loops on the zip pulls. I was pleased to see these remnants turned into attractive and useful items. 

flamingo bags

Flamingo print bags & purses

   half moon bag side 1

Tropical print toilet bag

Donations to the Refuge will be ongoing in 2017. In January we will each be giving a tube of toothpaste in a toilet bag as every little helps.

Maxi “Maggie” Tote Bag

front bag

I was born in the year of the Rabbit and this fabric featuring various Hares on a Linen-look cotton hopped into my shopping basket! I purchased a metre of the print from eBay and was delighted when it arrived to see that it co-ordinated well with the remnant of spotted linen look cotton left over from a dressmaking project(more of that later!).

I wanted to make a large tote bag to use for attending patchwork and quilting classes that would also be robust enough when out and about shopping.

I thought about the dimensions and based the main panels on the size of the “Martha” market bag which is a free pattern from the Craftsy website. From that starting point I went on my own unique path making external pockets on the bag, fussy-cutting the pocket panels and adding the contrast fabric to accent various features of the bag. I particularly like the way that a Hare is peeping over the top of the zipped pocket on the reverse of the bag.

reverse bag 2

There is a slip pocket behind both the external and the internal zipped pockets plus an internal pocket that is divided into sections to take a mobile phone, pens and pencils. I also added a loop and parrot clasp to one of the internal seams so that keys are always close to hand and don’t get lost at the bottom of the bag.

The contrasting flap has a twist lock and the entire bag is padded with Bosal ® foam interfacing. As the Bosal ® makes the bag somewhat cumbersome to handle, I applied a contrast binding around the top so that I could avoid the trauma of turning through a gap in the calico lining.

The final dimensions of the bag are 17” wide x 16” high x 4” deep. The handles extend by 22” and are therefore long enough to go over the shoulder.

I am delighted with this bag and intend to publish the pattern and instructions – maybe for a class or workshop. I have some more “Hare” fabric, featuring a smaller creature and plan to make a similar bag on a smaller scale – the “Midi Maggie”, followed eventually by the smallest, “Mini Maggie”. I can foresee many more “Maggie” bag incarnations in the future.

Finishing off Projects

I usually make a demonstration bag when tutoring a workshop and it often happens that the sample does not quite make the cut at the end of the day. For the Carousel Tote bag workshop I had prepared a bag using some remnants of fabric that were originally purchased for a Sewing Organiser ( that a great friend made for me to give to another great friend!

There was just sufficient to make the tote bag but on the day of the workshop it did not get finished. Now it is and as I plan to visit my friend mid-August I will save it to give to her when I visit.

101_6719 (2)   101_6720 (2)

Front of the Carousel Tote Bag        Reverse showing the accent fabric

When preparing for the Simplicity 2396 Tote Bag class – I was delighted to discover that due to the width of the fabric, I had sufficient for TWO bags. I managed to complete one on the day of the workshop and this afternoon have completed the second. This version has the added accents of contrast piping on the joining seam between the main bag and the bag band and also around the “fussy cut” tab. Both bags have my signature pockets inside – one divided slip pocket plus a zipper pocket with slip pocket behind. The second bag also has a loop with key chain so that those important keys do not get lost in the depths of the bag!

MARK 4 -2

I shall be sending one bag to my sister for her birthday in October and keep the other for me.

Bag-making Workshop – Simplicity 2396

pattern envelope

Caitlin and Sue arrived promptly for the workshop and after a brief introduction we got down to the business of cutting out all those pieces of fabric, interfacing and fusible wadding. Caitlin was re-cycling an Blue-printed Indian cotton tablecloth and Sue had chosen two beautiful, bright lengths of Batik in shades of Turquoise. For myself I chose a Natural-coloured coarse-woven linen/cotton blend with a print of old-fashioned Roses in Red.


Caitlin and Sue get cutting out

Having demonstrated the variations that I had made to this simple design, both “girls” opted to include the shaped tab and magnetic fastener on their bags.


Caitlin’s Bag partially completed

Stitching and construction went ahead and quickly all three bags were produced. Due to the wide range of fabric choices it never ceases to amaze me how different each completed bag looks.


Sue’s completed Bag                        My Bag – version 3

I hope that Caitlin and Sue will make up more of this bag pattern and look forward to spotting them in and around Hampshire and Wiltshire!


Caitlin models her completed bag.

Simplicity 2396 – Mark II

On Thursday 28th July I will be conducting a workshop to make a bag from this pattern. We will be making either version A or B. Meg at New Threads has recently bought in some lovely heavier weight cotton fabric that is just ideal for, amongst other things, bag making. I decided to use some of the new fabric to make a sample bag and chose the Dark Blue colourway with the charming print of Pink roses. The lining fabric also came from New Threads and is a neutral Beige printed with circles.


Simplicity 2396 is quite an easy sew, it seems that the most time-consuming part is cutting out as you have to cut out each pattern piece from the main fabric, wadding or fleece, interfacing and lining. However once that has been done the bag comes together quite quickly and is ideal for a beginner to make.
As I had already made the bag once before, this time I decided to add a few extras. Firstly as I was not adding a contrast band to the top of the bag, I inset a narrow strip of contrast fabric from my stash into the joining seam between the main bag panel and the top band. I included a small “fussy cut” flap with magnetic clasp closure as I feel this is more secure than the loop and button fastening that is shown on the pattern envelope.


Front of the Bag

I also added a small loop with parrot clasp to clip on a purse charm, but most of the changes were made to the inside. I cut each of the main panels into three sections and set zip and slip pockets (similar to those in the Carousel bag) into the middle sections.

internal divided slip pocket

Internal divided slip pocket

internal zip and slip pockets

Internal Zip pocket with Slip pocket behind

Taking inspiration from Sheila’s bag on Saturday where she had top-stitched her dark-coloured background printed fabric with a contrast Bright Pink thread, I did the same on this bag. In order to get the saturation of colour without resorting to a triple stitch, I simply used two threads in the needle and lengthened the stitch to 3 or 3.5.


Reverse of the Bag

I was very pleased with the finished bag which I passed to Meg to use as a display for both the fabrics and pattern. Hopefully we may get some more sign ups for the workshop as well.