Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Traveling in Style with Island Batik and By Annie

September's challenge for Island Batik ambassadors was to make one of the bag patterns By AnnieLast year's By Annie challenge was the first time I made one of Annie's patterns and I absolutely fell in love, it opened up so many bag possibilities!  I had my eye on a big bag, the Ultimate Travel Bag 2.0.  Annie sent a kit with all the supplies I needed to make the bag.  I admit, it was the first thing I made when my second ambassador box arrived.



 The products featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik, By Annie, Schmetz, and Aurifil.

This year we also got to pick our own fabrics, which was a real treat!  I picked fabrics from the Butterfly Blooms collection by Kathy Engle. I absolutely love the Butterfly Leaf print that I picked as my main fabric.  The coordinating fabric in the straps and accents is Animal Leaves and has delightful lizards and dragonflies in the swirls and leaves. For my lining, I picked the blender Bubbles in Raspberry. I also picked out a fourth fabric for the interior pockets, Mini Leaf in Moonstone, but when I watched Annie's add-on video, I realized that I would rather make the interior pockets out of mesh, so I used some white mesh that I had and saved the fabric for another project--you'll see it in December.  

Annie's patterns are very detailed and very thorough.  It took me 9 days to make my Ultimate Travel bag (remember that I have a full time job and kid) but if you make your way through her steps, you will end up with a very professional looking bag.  I love all the pockets on this!  On the outside of the bag there are pockets on either end, a slip pocket on the back of the bag, and a combination slip pocket/zipper pocket on the front of the bag. Inside, there is a full-sized pocket with a zipper on one side that can be fabric or mesh and divided slip pockets on the other side. You bind the slip pockets with Annie's fold-over elastic so they have a lovely bit of stretch --and it's decorative too!

in process

I will say that there are sections with a lot of layers.  Annie recommends a 90/14 top stitch needle and that's now the only thing I will use when making her bags, and I start each bag with a new Schmetz top stitch needle.  I used Aurifil thread and switched back and forth between color 5003 (wine) that matched both the butterfly fabric and the lining fabric and Aurifil 1148 (light jade) that matched the coordinating fabric. 

I used the bag as my "personal item" when I flew to visit a friend in July and it was perfect.  I used the full-size interior pocket for my ipad, my wallet fit in the zippered pocket; everything important had a spot.  I also took it to work one day when I needed to change my clothes at the end of the day and a coworker saw the bag.  I got kinda the ultimate bag compliment, she asked me if it was a Vera Bradley and I could proudly say, "nope, it's an Emily Leachman!"

action shot in use on my trip

I absolutely love my bag, and this just furthers my love of Annie's patterns.  If you have struggled with bags in the past like I have, check out her patterns.  She has a series of free projects with support videos to help you learn her techniques, and many of her patterns (including Ultimate Travel Bag 2.) have supporting add-on videos to explain the trickier elements.  Be warned, though, that once you make one of her bags, you'll want to make them all!  If you need more inspiration, check out all the Island Batik ambassadors this month to see their By Annie bags.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Neighborhood of Polka-Dotted Roofs

Have you seen Cheryl Brickey's recent book Just One Charm Pack?  As the title promises, the quilts in the book can be made with a charm pack and some coordinating yardage--a background fabric and an additional fabric.  I don't actually buy pre-cuts very often but I spent years doing frequent I-Spy swaps with 5" squares of fabric, so I have quite the collection of 5" squares.  I know I will make several patterns from this book and I chose to start with Cozy Cottages.

Isn't it cute?!  I picked I Spy squares that I thought would look good as a house, focusing on people and animals. I used Kona Pond for the background and Kona Chestnut for the chimneys, but I still needed something for roofs.  I wanted something colorful but that also looked a bit coordinated, since mine are actually from a charm pack of a single collection.  I found some charm squares that had polka dots--Urban Elemetz by Northcott.  I didn't have quite enough for all the roofs but polka dots gave me a theme and I found a few others I could use in my scrap stash.  So I am calling this the Neighborhood of Polka-Dotted Roofs. 


I needed mine to be a bit smaller than written so I adjusted the size of the sashing a bit, which means the spacing isn't quite as regular as Cheryl's actual pattern, so anything that looks off balance is a fault of mine, not the pattern.  I still think it's super cute and I will absolutely make this pattern again.  I really like it for I Spy squares.  This will be donated to the local children's hospital. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Happy Mail

The two best mail days in my year are the days that my Island Batik ambassador boxes arrive.  This year, the spring & summer precuts were not ready yet when the boxes shipped, so we were told we'd get them later in the summer.  Today was that day!  I received 2 beautiful Island Batik precuts, each with 2 yards light and 2 yards dark coordinating yardage.  

First there was a strip pack of Midnight Dazzle with 2 yards of Sky (pale blue) and 2 yards of Imperial (red) to go with it. 

And then a 10" stack of Passion Petals with 2 yards of Cat Scratch-Smore, a fun dark cream/light caramel blender, and 2 yards of Flourite, a basic that's a green/blue marble.  I haven't seen either of the yardage fabrics before and it's always exciting to see new colors.

So many pretty colors!  Purples and jewel tones are my favorite, so they clearly know my preferences!  I can't wait to play with these new precuts.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

back to school pencil cases

School has started here and I made Fire Monkey a pencil pouch for the new school year.  I used A Pencil Case for Lola, one of By Annie's free patterns.  Annie also has a tutorial for the pencil case.  



The obvious fabric for Fire Monkey was fire trucks, of course, and I used the same fabric for the outside and inside.  I made a second pouch for my niece, Noodle, also a 2nd grader.  Noodle's case had sea turtles on the outside and a candy print on the inside, but I didn't remember to get a photo before I mailed it to her on the west coast.  I heard it was a hit with her, though.  


loaded and ready for school

I was pleased with how little fabric I needed; this is a great project for scraps.  They also sewed up fairly quickly.  Fire Monkey seems happy with his.  Here he is hamming it up after his first day of school: 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


I've been doing an informal quilt-along with Wendy  of Pieceful Thoughts of My Quilting Life of the Coral Coreopsis pattern by James & Gracie.  Here is my finished quilt!  I used Kona solids, and for once, I do not know what they are!  Most of these came from leftover layer cakes and were no longer labeled. I could look them up, and at some point I probably will.

I didn't remember to get a photo of just the top before it was layered on a piece of fleece with polka dots, so you can't really see it well before the quilting.  I quilted with a large spiral and dark gray thread.  This will go to the local children's hospital.

with the backing showing a bit

Others may know this but I did not: Coral Coreposis is a plant/flower.   From my limited research, the plant is Coreposis and coral indicates the plants that have a dark orange color.  Since mine is not in the colorway, I dropped the "coral" part of the pattern name. 

I set finishing my quilt as my One Monthly Goal with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  Unfortunately, while I wrote the goal post in time, I forgot to actually link it at the beginning of the month.  (Last month, I finished my goal but didn't post. I am not doing well.)

Monday, August 30, 2021

Scrappy Placemats

 For Christmas 2019, I made my dad some scrappy placemats to replace the pretty gross ones he had when I visited him in early 2019.  The deal was that if I made him new ones, he would get rid of the old ones.  I was only able to make 4 in time for Christmas, but I promised more would come.

I didn't get them done for 2020 Christmas but I am ahead of the game for Christmas 2021!  I finished 6 more (only 4 pictured, as my table isn't very big) so he will have 10.  And hopefully now can get rid of the gross ones that couldn't be washed.  These are machine washable which will be an improvement.

I used 2" scraps of Kona solids in any shade of blue, green, or brown and sewed them completely randomly. There are 80 squares in each placemat. The binding is black, because when I made the first batch, I knew I could "match" black and wouldn't be able to match anything else.  That was a good choice on my part, knowing that I would not remember the right color years later.  I also have to say, I know a lot of people love machine stitching binding, but this further reminded me that I hate it.  I bound all of these by machine and wish I hadn't, especially since I have plenty of time until Christmas. Oh, well.  They are finished now!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Playing with Clam Up

I am currently obsessed with making bags using By Annie patterns. After going more than 20 years as a quilter who couldn't make bags, it turns out I just needed the right patterns! I've bought quite a few of Annie's patterns and actually have a few completed that I still need to post. One that I recently bought is the Clam Up pattern, a cute little dumpling pouch in five sizes. 


I went through my novelty scraps to find what I had that would be a good match for each size.  For the smallest Clam Up, I had a piece of leftover quilted soft & stable from the Call Me I made my mom last Christmas.  For the other 4 sizes, I didn't quilt the fabric.  I wanted to see all the variations of Clam Up in this first batch.

Each bag nests inside the next size up!

In my quest to try all the variations, I made one of each size.  I really like them all.  On a recent trip (before Delta really took over and made travel scary again), I took the extra large, large, and extra small.  They all came in handy!  I put my toiletries in the extra large, my sewing supplies in the large, and hair clips and bands in the extra small.

Extra Large

The large is currently my favorite size.  It is perfect for a few sewing supplies and stands up very securely for easy access as I need something. 


A great feature of these bags is that they nest inside each other when empty.  I'm thinking of making a set for my niece for Christmas because I think she will be amused by opening a pouch to find another pouch inside, like Russian nesting dolls! 

Clam Up has options for square or triangle tabs at the bottom.  I tried both.  I like the look of the square tabs better and I find them easier to hold on to.


There is also instruction for adding a swivel hook.  I added this to the extra small bag.  It actually calls for a 1/2" hook but I only had a 1" hook.  

extra small, with swivel hook

They call for a double slide zipper but I also tried one with just one zipper.  No real issues, but since I use zippers by the yard and they come with lots of pulls, I'm not sure the single slide zipper saves me anything. I'm bummed that on the small bag, I seamed the fabric wrong so my fairies are upside down.  Oops! But that one also has my favorite lining fabric.


inside of the small

These are really fabulous pouches and now I want to make them in all the fabrics!  I look at scraps and think, "that could be a medium, that could be a large, that could be a small..."  I've been using them, too, and it's always nice to use something you made!