Category Archives: Bags

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.

Carousel Bag-making Workshop – 23rd July 2016

Saturday 23rd July dawned bright, sunny and VERY warm. My car was packed and I was ready to tutor another workshop at New Threads based at Weyhill where we would be making the Carousel Tote Bag . There were originally four ladies booked for the workshop but unfortunately one had to cancel at the last minute so that left three – Alex, Joann and Sheila. Alex has attended one of my bag-making workshops on a previous occasion and it was lovely to meet up with her again and to hear all about the two naughty Beagle dogs that she has at home.


Alex concentrating on sewing the Bag Flap!

After an introduction, the ladies set to and cut out all the pieces of fabric, lining, interfacing and fusible wadding. The day was warm and even warmer in the workroom as we fused interfacing and wadding to the fabric pieces. However, once that task had been completed it was down to the interesting stitching and putting all those pieces together. In the Carousel Tote bag there are two different methods for zip insertions which I am sure will be repeated in other bags.


Joann                                                                               Sheila

Alex’s bag was made in two contrasting Batiks in Bright Turquoise and Bright Pink, Joann also used Batik printed fabric, this time in Pinky/Earthtones with a contrast lining in Lime Green. Sheila’s bag was a charming print of little Pink roses on a dark background. Top stitching was in contrasting Pink which co-ordinated with the Pink lining. By the end of the day we had 4 almost completed bags and I feel sure that the ladies will now go forward with confidence and make more bags to this pattern.

  joann's bag with button

   Joann’s completed Bag

Well done!

Martha Market Bag mark II – LONDON


After a busy day that included laundry and gardening, I settled down in the sewing room for a couple of hours and have completed the second Martha Market Bag. As mentioned in an earlier post, I had originally planned to make this bag when I attended the UFO day at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground but managed to omit some vital “ingredients” when preparing the “kit”.

By using the “London” printed canvas that I bought at the Sandown Quilt Show plus some lovely Black corduroy from my stash I have produced a “unisex” bag that my husband can also use when he visits local bookstalls and shops.

Some changes to the original pattern means that the bag has additional internal pockets. There is a slip pocket with stitched divisions for pens and a mobile phone, a zipped pocket with slip pocket behind and the bag also has a small tab with button fastening for that little extra security. I used plain calico for the pockets and bag lining, the corduroy is used for the bag base, handles and button tab. For this bag I have omitted wadding but I did use Vilene F220 medium weight fusible interfacing just to add stability and strength to the outer fabrics and handles.

So that’s it for bag making for the moment. It is my birthday early next month so I need to get stitching a new dress for the day – now what fabric and design shall I make?