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Friday, January 26, 2018


I'm not one for currently making things other than quilts (if you have read my background you know that I have tried almost every craft imaginable) but occasionally I do like to learn to make other things. I have made one purse and a couple fabric bowls within the last couple of years. I do it, not because I necessarily want or need it, but because I like to try to make most things at least once. (Then if I like it I will make it again.)

I have all of these 1 yard prints that I purchased to sell on my website. They weren't flat folds, but ends of collections that the fabric company (P&B Textiles) wanted to sell to quilt shops as a bargain. I sell them for $5 each and I have sold quite a few at my local quilt guild meeting. But I still have a lot left. I was trying to figure out how to use some of them plus come up with a class to teach locally so I did a search for quilted bags on the internet. I watched a couple Youtube videos and decided that I would try it. The videos I watch used inexpensive place mats purchased at WalMart or Target and looked quick and easy.

Since I wanted to use the fabric I had, I had to figure what was the best use of a yard of fabric and how many bags I could get from one yard. Regular place mats are about 14" x 19" so I decided that if I made them out of 14" x 18" I could get 6 bags from each yard. I would need two yards, one for the outside and one for the lining.

My first attempt to make the bag ended in something that did not look like what it was suppose to be. It ended up flat! It was suppose to be a box shape! After I realized that I had sewn the corners wrong, I though if I unsewed them and sewed them the correct way it would be fixed. WRONG! Because I had already trimmed the corners they could not be resewn the correct way. This bag will just have to remain flat. I can use it as a cosmetic bag when I travel.

So... to start again. The first bag you can see I did just some straight line quilting on it. So I thought, this next one I will try to do some free motion quilting on my new Janome machine. Since I do all of my quilting on my A-1 longarm machine, I am more accustomed to moving the machine, not the quilt. Moving the machine for me is like holding a pencil. I have no trouble doodling on the longarm. Quilting on a domestic machine is, however, a whole different motion. I took a class on quilting with my domestic machine from Ricky Tims years ago when I first started quilting. He made it look so easy. I thought that since I was having problems mastering it, it was because of my sewing machine so I asked Ricky to sit down at my machine (at that time it was a Bernina 930) and show me how. Well, I learned it wasn't my machine! He just floated along and quilted beautiful feathers and such on MY machine. So much for that excuse.

So this next bag I did try free motion quilting on it. Not being used to the foot pedal speed and the speed of moving my quilt top I struggled to try to get my stitches even and use a smooth movement with my hands. Neither worked. Of course I hadn't had any practice doing it for a long time, so I really shouldn't have expected too much. Here is my attempt at stippling on my second bag. (It looks like what a kindergardener's handwriting looks like when they are learning to write!)

I think I will stick with straight line stitching on my domestic machine! If I want to quilt them quickly I can put the two yard pieces together on my longarm, quilt the whole piece and then cut them up into the sizes I want for my bags. (I like that option the best.) These bags make fast and easy gifts or something to sell at quilt shows or craft fairs.

So here is what you need and how to make the boxy bag.
2 fabric pieces cut into 14" x 18".
1 piece of batting (any kind works, the thinner the better) cut at 15" x 19".
Matching thread for sewing and an optional decorative thread for overcast and quilting.
16" nylon zipper to match the fabric.
10" grosgrain ribbon to match the fabric. (optional)
Zipper foot, regular foot, and overcast foot if you have one.

1. Layer lining, batting and top fabrics so that the wrong side of both fabrics touch the batting.
2. Quilt the layers as desired.
3. Trim the quilted piece so that it is squared up. No batting should show. You will probably end up with a 13-1/2" x 17-1/2" piece or slightly smaller.
4. Finish off the two short edges of the piece with some type of overcast or decorative stitch. If you have a a serger machine you can use it to finish off the edges.
5. Center your zipper, right side of zipper facing wrong side of finished edge, and using your zipper foot, sew one side of the zipper on the quilt. I double sewed it (two stitching lines on top of each other) to hold it together better.

6. Lining up the two edges of the quilt, pin the other side of the zipper to hold it on the quilt. Unzip the zipper all the way and sew the other side of the zipper on.

7. Turn the quilt inside out and flatten it to make sure that the zipper is in the center of both sides. I measured from the edge of the zipper to the folded edge on both sides and made adjustments if they were not even. You could also mark the center of the quilt and line up the zipper on top of the center line. (In the photo I had trimmed the end, not the top, of the zipper before sewing. You can do it now or after you sew the seam.) Sew this side with a 3/8" seam reinforcing the stitching over the zipper. (If you want to put in some loops on each end you can do it at this point. Cut the ribbon into two 5" pieces. Fold them in half and place them on top of the zipper between the outside piece and the zipper, with the ends of the ribbon even with the edges of the quilt. The loop will be inside of the quilt.You can make bigger loops if you want, just cut the ribbon longer.)

8. Open the zipper half way. Match the open sides of the zipper, (this is the side with the pull) holding it together and pin it. Sew this end with a 3/8" seam, keeping the zipper as close together as possible and reinforcing the stitches over the zipper.  Cut off ends of zipper that go past the seams.

9. Here is the place where I made my mistake. Fold one of the corners so that the seam is in the middle and it creates a point. You can measure both sides from the seam to make sure you folded it in half accurately. (Don't worry if it is not perfect. That is the great thing about this boxy bag. It looks good not matter what you do!)

10. Using some type of triangle ruler, line it up at 2" along the two edges as illustrated and draw a line along the ruler's edge. You can make the measurement smaller (2" or 1-1/2") if you want the bag to be a little shorter and longer. The first one I marked at 2-1/2" this one I marked at 2".  Repeat this on all 4 corners. Put in a couple pins just to hold the folded corners.

11. Sew along the drawn line keeping seams open.

12. Trim off the corners to about 3/8" from the seam. Trim off the two corners a little to make turning it easier.

13. Turn your bag right side out and push out the corners. Here are my two bags side to side so you can see the slight difference in the height and length.

Of course if you don't want to make your own quilt sandwich, you can certainly use a place mat. Try not to get one that is too stiff or it will make it hard to sew through all of the seams at the corners.

Well I hope you have learned enough to try to make your own bag. Play with different sizes of fabrics and heights. You could even make a small one for a change bag in your purse! I'd love to see what you come up with. Feel free to leave a comment if you need any clarification of my directions or if you can think of something that I left out that you think I should add.

As always: Do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading. Toby Lischko

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Time to get your patches cut out and sewn together! For those of you that are new to this challenge, for fussy cutting, I do recommend you get a set of mirrors so you can see some of the different possibilities you can get from your fabric. You can get Marti Michell's Magic Mirrors on my website.


Some rules when working with symmetrical fabrics. In most cases you will be cutting the designs out along the symmetrical line. That means it will look the same on both sides of the center line. In Georgia block 2 I will show you how to get a mirror image from the fabric. For some of the small block patches you can cut motifs anywhere in your fabrics. The fabric patches that I fussy cut are just a suggestion and what I decided. You can certainly fussy cut any of the patches in the blocks.


After cutting out your templates be sure to draw in the seam allowances. On some of the templates you will want to draw a center line in them so that you can line up the lines on the center of a design. 
Block 1

I have redone the Block 2 templates so that it isn't so confusing. If you have already cut them out, don't worry, The shapes are the same, just labeled wrong in the file. Here is the link to the new pdf file for block 2. Templates A and B1 are the same in both blocks.
Block 2 

If this is the first time you are participating, instead of having you go back to see my instructions on how to get perfect repeats in fussy cutting, I will explain it again here. First place some rolled up adhesive tape on the back of the templates. This will help with the fussy cutting and to keep the fabric from slipping when cutting out the other patches.

Once you find a design you like on your symmetrical fabric and place the template on it, using your small rotary cutter, cut around the template. Don't move the template until you know that the piece is completely cut out. Leave your cut piece on the template and move it to the next repeat that is the same as what is on the template. Line it on top of the fabric until the design completely disappears. All of the edges of the fabric on the template will line up with the fabric underneath. Then cut out your next repeat. Continue in this manner, using that first cut piece as your guide until all of your repeats are completed.
Here are the fabrics I picked for Georgia Block 1 and here is what the finished block looks like.

All of the blocks are 12-1/2" unfinished
Fabric 1 Symmetrical light
* Fussy cut seven (6) repeats with Template B1. They can all be the same or use your discretion.
* Fussy cut one (1) with Template A. (I cut the same as with Template B1).
Fabric 2 Light background
* Cut four (4) Template A
* Cut four (4) Template B1
Fabric 3 Contrast 1 Pink
* Cut four (4) Template A
* Cut four (4) Template C
Fabric 4 Contrast 2 Green
* Cut four (4) Template C

1. Sew Fabric 3 and Fabric 4 triangles together. Press to darker fabric.

2. Lay out the A, B1, and C half-square triangle patches as illustrated.
3. Sew patches together. I sewed column 1 to column 2, then 2 to 3 and so on. I did not clip the threads as I sewed them together. This makes it easier to match seams. Press in the direction of the arrows.

4. Sew rows together matching seams. Press seams away from the triangle patches.

Here are the fabrics I picked for block 2 and what the finished block looks like.

First play with your mirrors to see what kind of designs you can get. Take your B2 Template and put it inside the mirrors to set your angle.  Place some tape across the top of the mirrors to hold the angle.

Move the mirrors so that one edge is along the center symmetrical line as illustrated.

Because template B2 has a left and right piece you will need to use your symmetrical fabric in a different way. Instead of lining the template along the center of the symmetrical line you will use the diagonal edge of the template and line it up somewhere on the right (or left) side of the symmetrical line as illustrated. You need to put the rolled up tape on both sides of the template. 

Start by cutting out four right (or left) repeats and then turn the template over and line up the back side of the fabric to the underside of the fabric and matching up the designs along the edges. Concentrate on getting the diagonal side of the template more exact because sometimes the fabrics may not be perfectly lined up along the other sides and the diagonal edges are the ones that should match. Then cut out the four repeats on the other side.

Fabric 1 Symmetrical dark
* Cut four (4) left and four (4) right repeats
Fabric 2 Contrast 1 Red
* Cut five (5) Template A
Fabric 3 Contrast 2 Yellow
* Cut four (4) Template A
* Cut four (4) Template B1

1. "Y" seams. The following are illustrations on how to sew "y" seams without marking. Layout the left and right Fabric 1 Template B2 and the Fabric 3 Template A corner as illustrated.
2. Fold the corner square along the left fussy cut piece, lining up the edges. Sew 1/4" seam along the edge.

3. Fold the right fussy cut piece to line up along the right edge of the square as shown. Turn over the section and starting just in front of the seam line, back stitch and sew 1/4" to the end of the patch. 

4. Fold the section in half so that the Template B2 pieces are on top of each other. Fold the seams towards the square and place a pin at the intersection where the two seams come together. Pin along the diagonal edge to match the fabric motifs. Starting at the intersection, back stitch and sew to the center end.

5. Press seams towards the square and the center seam open. Repeat with the other three corners.

6. Sew Fabric 2 Template A to Fabric 3 Template B1. Make four. Press to darker fabric.

7. Layout corner units, A/B units and Fabric 2 Template A as illustrated and sew sections together.
Press to A/B units.
8. Sew rows together. Press to the center.

Please email me if you have any questions regarding any of these directions. I would love to see what you come up with! 


When you take a photo of your finished block, be sure it is a straight on shot. Tape it to the wall or place it on the floor. Center the image in the camera so that the edges of the block are straight along the edges of the camera image. Don't take the photo on an angle. Email me your finished blocks to I will be making a file of all of the finished blocks and sharing them on my social media pages unless you do not want me to.
Occasionally I will be having drawings for those who have finished their blocks.

Remember: Always do what you love and love what you do. Thank you for participating and feel free to share this blog with your quilting friends. Toby