The Ultimate Travel Bag - Another Major Project!

I just like to go off and do whatever takes my fancy. So when a Bluprint offer came along for Annie Unrein’s Ultimate Travel Bag kit I couldn’t resist the temptation, especially when I could get the online class as part of my subscription. The kit was fantastic, even including the plexiglass base stabiliser already cut to size.


The big decision was how to quilt the fabric pieces. There are quite a lot of embroidery designs for squares but not many all over patterns. I found a free stipple design by Embroidery Garden which would fit my large hoop. I then used my PE Design to fit to the right size for the last hooping at the edge and bottom.

I have tried a variety of methods to quilt using my embroidery machine and struggled with both placement for multiple hoopings and the sheer bulk of the quilt sandwich.

Unless you have a long arm quilter the patterns suggests quilting in two pieces. The issue when using the embroidery machine is that with the fabric quantity supplied you need to get right to the edge of the fabric which makes hooping difficult. After a lot of research I thought I would try and use Madeira Super Film Iron Away Stabiliser. I hooped the film and then pinned the fabric sandwich in place. Each piece took eight hoopings of my largest frame (200 x 300). This was very time consuming but the big challenge came when I had to iron away the stabiliser. A hot and messy process and I am still finding bits of hardened plastic! However, well worth the time invested for someone who is not very good at free motion quilting.


All the quilting done, then comes the task of cutting the many pieces. The pattern comes with a sheet of labels and it is really helpful as there are many similar pieces. I watched the class all the way through before going any further.

I worked my way through the pattern in order, strapping first, pockets, bottom and then zippers. My machine did struggle with the bulk when attaching the binding for the shoulder pad. A lot of layers to get through but it did come together pretty quickly once I got going.

Then on to the bag front and back. As all the preparation had been done the construction was relatively simple and the end was in sight.

There are two paper circle templates to shape the top and bottom of the front and back pieces. However, I cut these out in very thick card using my cricut so I got a perfect circle and I could use my rotary cutter.

I was extremely careful to double check all the measurements to ensure the zipper strip fit. I was so relieved when everything fit together perfectly. Wonderclips are your best friend for this job - as long as you remember they have a flat side! Let’s see how it holds up on a weekend trip. It certainly looks the part.

Everything in Its Place Bag

Just so I could use rainbow glitter vinyl!  Lucy, the tutor for the Fluorite Quilt, had all her tools in a great organiser that had glitter vinyl.  The vinyl had come from the Sewing Quarter and the pattern was by Annie Reineim but Lucy had made using a Craftsy Class.  A couple of days later an offer came along and I bought the Craftsy Class.  Had to wait a while for the vinyl to come in stock but worth the wait.

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Quite a long and expensive list of requirements to get together.  Got the fabric in the Patchfinders sale ( the annual 20% of everything).  Then there was the Soft and Stable, mesh, long zippers, zippers by the yard, vinyl.  Fortunately, Sew Hot stocks all the ByAnnie products.   Thought it best to use the same brand and then I could get a feel for the structure.  I do have a Bosal equilvalent also from Sew Hot. 


The vinyl, from Sewing Quarter, came tightly packed flat which meant crease lines.  So leaving it in the sunshine was my idea to soften the folds!  It helped then I rolled it up for a while.  I was a little apprehensive about the quality but pleasantly surprised given the price.  

The idea was to quilt the fabric and then cut up.  Having just finished quilting in the hoop I thought I would try again.  I found another of Amelie Scott expansion pack with circles to match the fabric.  A bit of a disaster.  Just too much to get into the hoop.  I tried using Floriani Perfect Stick but not having it.  So thought I would test my freemotion quilting skills.  A bit too rusty.  Reverted back to straight lines with my walking foot!

I made the gusset first.  The zip went in well.  There was a bit of bulk to get through when sewing the top to the sides and I have a heavy duty sewing machine with a walking foot!

I moved onto the front and back pockets which uses the zipper chain.  With the zipper by the yard you have to put all the zipper pulls on first using an uncut end.  Really messy if you don't.  At this point I had to decide what combination of inside pockets I was going to make.  You mark the point of each zip, sew a line of stitching either side and then cut up.

Front and back pockets done I moved on to the vinyl pockets.  There is a handy template which I stuck onto cardboard.  Having carefully folded all nine up I basted in place using a Teflon foot (I bought it a while ago but never used).  Then you attach all the zips before attaching to the folders.

Once the pockets are in you apply the velcro.  I used my fabric glue stick to hold in place and switched to white thread.  Again hard going through two sets of velco and stabiliser.  All the parts ready it was time to put together.  You can use clips but I have some strong pins which I preferred to use.  Nothing moves with these.  You make one side and then the other.  There was quite a nifty way to make the binding.  

You then apply the binding along the same stitch line.  Most of corners worked out but I did go back and redo a couple of them as you are moving quite a bit of bulk around the corners.  There is also a good technique for joining the binding which I always have to think twice about before I cut.  It was quite a session to finish the binding but it was quite a relief when I had finished.  Then just the zipper pulls to do.  I felt exhausted but just got to the point where I had to finish.  

It looks absolutely fabulous.  I just hope I find some classes to go to so I can use.  Otherwise a very expensive make.  


Fluorite Quilt and all things time saving

This was a class at Patchfinders all about an exploration of colour gradients.  Something I really struggle with!  The idea was to choose your own colours and design a crystal inspired quilt. Lucy, a designer on Sewing Quarter,  shows you tips and tricks to create a unique pattern that can be made to any size. 


The idea was to use a combination of random half square and quarter square triangles along with square blocks to create the crystal look using solid and ombre colour fabrics.

I found this quite challenging and I ended up unpicking some of the combinations that I thought didn't work and moving around until I got something I was happy with.

Having moved on to sewing clothing I had to reacquaint myself with patchwork techniques.  I had forgotten how satisfying it was to cut up fabric into small pieces and put back together in a pattern.

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So what to back it with.  This was also quite a hard choice because of the combination of light and dark fabric.  So the backing would have to be light enough not to show through on the right side and dark enough that the dark fabric on the right side would not show through.  Back to Patchfinders and went with a sort of mottled purple.  Rather than buy two lengths I used the fabric left over to create a centre strip graduating in colour.


So now I would need to quilt!  How to save time and effort?  The first point I dread is the pinning the layers together.  So I bought a micro stitch gun.  Then I got out the Janome quilt binder set I bought just as I stopped making quilts.  Needed a bit of practice.  Free motion quilting not my thing and the thought of flinging the quilt around my machine got me thinking about using my embroidery machine.  After scouring the internet for something suitable I finally found some continuous designs from Amelie Scott for use in the hoop.


The angle design was part of an expansion pack of ten designs.  Each comes in three sizes with an A and B file.  The practice on a small scale went well.  

Using on a real quilt was more challenging.  With my largest hoop it took 28 hoopings.  The most difficult part for me was getting the hoop in the right place.  I used double sided basting tape to keep in place but had to keep changing.  Then the design was so large in the hoop there wasn't much room for moving the start point if it wasn't quite right.  I really appreciated the LED pointer I had purchased.   I also need practice in drawing up threads at the start and end.  As the thread matched the backing fabric it looks fine except in the middle where I had patched in the leftover fabric.  


Quilting done it was time to bind.  So then I had to practice using the binding set. A few You Tube videos later I had got the hang of it although the mitred corners weren't perfect.  So impressed with the binding set.  Just breezed through the quilt.

A good day for gadgets.  Just not enough hours in the day to make all I want especially as I keep getting sidetracked!