I’m Seeing Green

Still on my Frankenbag kick, last night I pulled out some Kaffe Fassett Collective charm squares that I’ve had for years and started playing around. They’re in my favorite color way… GREEN! I simply cut them into strips and sewed them into long rows. They will make fun pieces to combine with other orphan blocks and crumb quilting.

I like the greens, but they felt a little flat to me. I felt like they needed a pop of color for interest. I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve that.

And then a package landed with a WHOMP on my porch this afternoon. Inside was more KFC scraps shipped to me by a friend, and sne sent me a pile of nearly sixty blocks that she had made in a class at her LQS… All of them containing KFC fabrics! They are going to be so much fun to incorporate into Frankenbags and other scrappy projects!

And in that pile of blocks were two that were perfect to introduce a pop of color into my green strips. I got one of those blocks assembled into a bag front tonight.

I got some borders put on the other block that I’ll use on the other side.

Amazing the hard work a little pop of color will do! And if I’m focused, I might get the second bag panel made and both panels quilted tomorrow evening. Come on weekend!

I’m going to line this bag with this gorgeous Philip Jacob’s coleus.

We found a HUGE pine cone on our walk last night. So, of course, we had to balance it on Bender’s head!

Isn’t that just amazing?

Two Bag Linings Complete

Holy cow! Have we been having glorious weather the last couple of weeks. It’s usually raining this time of year in Portland, but this year it’s sunny and warm. It’s such a joy to get outside every evening in the sunlight! Had a nice walk tonight as I talked on the phone with a friend.

When I got home I dug in and finished the lining on two of the bags that I shared last night.

I love the lining on this one! I just LOVE a graphic black and white print with these bright colored fabrics!

I made the pocket from black and white Jumble.

Here’s the back of the bag. I think I like it even more than the front! I want to do more with black and white combined with the bright colors. All kinds of ideas floating around my head on that.

Gah! I love it!!!

The other finish tonight is this border collie bag.

And that lining? It just makes me so happy!

And I just love the contrast of the delicate paisley on the pocket. Smiles all around on this one!

Here’s the back. I just love this black and white crumb quilting. I thought it would be bland, but it’s really fun!

For this bag made from Kaffe’s Paperweight fabrics I had planned on using Paprika paperweight for the lining.

But I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to use the Algae colorway instead. I think it will make the bag feel cooler and will be a more subdued color way which is a change for me. I’m going to have to order some as neither of the two pieces I have is big enough.

Two more of my blog readers send me photos of the Frankenbags they made.

Here’s the first one from Jean Boseman. And I’m a real sucker for batiks so this one makes me pretty happy! I can see several fabrics in this bag that I’ve used in previous projects.

This next bag is from Sally Zimmer. I love that she put a zipper in her bag. I’ve been thinking about coming up with a design that includes a zipper, and now I’m inspired to get it done!

What am I gonna work on next?

Two More Bag Bodies Done

I’ve had a productive couple days of sewing. Yesterday I worked on this new Frankenbag, but I made it from all new fabrics. Not scraps.

I’m considering this the front of the bag.

And I’m calling this the back. Although it really doesn’t matter which is which.

The only difference between the front and back is how I cut the sections of pieced strips.

I love the straight line quilting on this one. I like the way it plays with all the circles and dots in the fabric.

I made this from a charm pack of Kaffe Fassett paperweight fabrics that I’ve had for several years. I could never figure out what to do with it. One charm pack isn’t much fabric. So this was a perfect way to use up that little collection of fabric. I have enough left over to make another bag. Thinking of maybe going with a green paperweight for the borders on the next one.

The red at the bottom will be the lining on this bag. I chose the red because the body of the bag feels a little dark to me and I thought the red fabric would brighten the whole thing up.

All I have to do to finish this is make the lining and sew it in. That’s a pretty small part of making these bags.

The other bag body I finished tonight was the one I made for my panel tutorial. Here’s the front.

The fabric at the bottom will be the lining. I think that will be a really fun pop of vibrancy! And I quilted this with straight line quilting and I love it!

Here’s the back of the bag.

And I have to say, I LOVE the back of this bag! Makes me want to make more on this idea!

I’ve received a couple more photos of Frankenbags that people have made following my tutorial.

Here’s another one from Elizabeth Wellenstein. I just love these saturated blues and purples! She made this for her mother in law’s 88th birthday!

And here’s one made by Nancy Elizabeth Ewert. She said she used some orphan blocks left over from a Gypsy wife quilt.

There are so many things I love about this one. I love the fussy cut blue millefiori. I love that vertical line of yellow and green nestled in with those stripes. I have all kinds of ideas after seeing this one.

Next up, I want to finish the three bags that still need linings. Then who knows what I’ll make. I would like to figure out a way to add a zipper closure to the top of my Frankenbag. I have some ideas, but I’ll have to plan it out and make at least one prototype. More on that as my ideas firm up.

If you make a bag, remember I’d love to see it and would love to share it here. Email me a photo at anne@agilejack1.com.

Making Frankenbag Panels — Kind of a Tutorial

I made the front and back for another KFC Frankenbag Saturday afternoon. So I thought I’d take pictures as I made it to show you how I go about putting together the pieces and assembling these panels. For your reference, here’s a link to my Frankenbag tutorial.

Here’s the final front and back that I’ll be showing you.

I taped off a 17×17 inch grid on my cutting table so it’s easier for you to see the size I want to make these panels. I don’t do this when I’m making my panels. Usually, I’m just using the measurements on my cutting table.

Here are the pieces I’ll use to make the front of this bag. There’s the larger flying geese block, the stacked block of strips on the right, and some crumb blocks at the bottom.

I think about putting these panels together a little bit like putting a puzzle together. Except that instead of finding a puzzle piece that has to fit the hole exactly, I MAKE a puzzle piece to fit that hole. If the puzzle piece is too big, I’ll cut some off. If it’s too small, I’ll add some fabric.

I assemble the top section of these panels first. The first thing I want to do is line up the pieces and get a general idea of how much space I’m going to need to fill to make it 17 inches wide. In this next photo you can see that I have about 4.5 inches of space that I need to fill. And remember that when you’re laying out these pieces you need to keep seam allowances in mind — you need to add extra width for the seam allowances. That’s an additional 1/2 inch of width for every vertical seam across the width. The more pieces you have horizontally, the more you’ll lose in seam allowances once it’s all sewn.

So I want to determine how I’m going to fill that 4.5 inches. I could add a crumb panel, or another block. But I like wide sashing on these pieces. So I start out by trying out different fabrics for the border on this larger block.

I’m pretending that I might actually use something here besides this Jumble. Haha. Nope. It will be Jumble! So I cut some two inch strips and sewed these borders onto that flying geese block. I like to use two inch strips because it makes a bold border, but it also gives me enough fabric that I can trim a little if I need to in order to make these pieces come out to 17 inches.

Before I get too far along I trim the big block so all the edges are straight.

Now I can figure out how I’m going to fill the space around that vertical stripped block on the right. I trimmed a little off that block so that I could use a wider border on it.

In the next photo, I’ve overlapped the two existing blocks to mimic my seam allowance. You can see that I have about 3 inches to fill to make these two blocks 17 inches wide.

So I selected some red Guinea Flower to border this block, cut it into two inch strips and sewed it to all four sides of this block.

When I got to this point I realized that I has going to be less than 17 inches when I sewed that vertical seam between these two blocks because I hadn’t allowed enough for the seam allowance. No worry. Just select a fabric to sew between those two bordered blocks to get you the width you need.

I love that red Strata fabric! It’s fun in a narrow strip. I sewed the Strata strip to the block on the right and checked my width again. See how I’ve overlapped the two blocks to mimic the seam allowance?

So it looks like I will have plenty of width when I sew these two blocks together. In fact… too much. So I trimmed a little off of that strata strip to account for the excess.

And when I sewed it all together I only had about a quarter inch to trim off of the right side. That’s pretty good.

I’m going to leave that quarter inch and move onto finishing the bottom of this panel. It’s nice to have a little extra that you can trim off at the end of the assembly. You don’t have to have it all perfect at this stage.

So next, I selected some of the crumb blocks that I made previously. I chose blocks that are similar in height, and selected enough to add up to more than 17 inches wide once they are trimmed and sewn together. At this point I’m just eye balling this. And it looks like I’ll have plenty of width with these four crumb blocks.

So next, I trim the edges of the blocks where they’re going to be sewn together so I’ll have a nice straight seam.

I do this on each seam and sew the crumb blocks into a strip, keeping the top edge of the blocks as even as possible.

Then I trim off the edge that will be sewn to the top part of this panel.

And when it’s lined up, I can see that it’s not tall enough to get me to 17 inches in height. So I needed to add in some more fabric. I could add more crumb blocks, but I decided to add a strip of fabric. So I pulled out some fabric to see what I liked in that space.

First I tried Crease.

Then I tried this little zebra print I have in my stash.

Then I tried Brandon Mably’s Vibrations. This is the one I decided to go with.

So I cut a 2 inch strip and sewed it in place.

And now that those two seams are sewn, you can see that I have a little more than 17 inches in height. So I trimmed off the little bit of excess at the bottom. And that means that this front panel is now 17 inches square. Yay!

Now let’s move onto the back panel. I’ve been making the back panel less involved than the front panel. So these bags definitely have a front and a back. You could certainly do something more involved for both sides if that floats your boat.

So, I’m using mostly crumb blocks on the back. I start by lining up some of my pre-made crumb blocks across the width of the space I taped off.

I had a choice to make on this first row. I could either add some crumb pieces to fill in that space, or I could make a little block to fill that space. I decided to use black and white KFC fabrics to fill that space.

When I eye balled these two strips to fill that space, I didn’t feel positive that I had enough width once I trimmed the blocks and sewed the seams.

So I added another strip of black and white fabric to make that piece wider and it looks like we’re good to go now.

So I sewed it all together and It’s plenty wide now.

So I trimmed the bottom and top off straight and moved on to adding fabric to the bottom of this piece. I don’t trim the sides until I have this whole 17×17 piece put together.

I continued adding strips of fabric and crumb blocks, making those puzzle pieces and putting them in place… trying out different things as I went along.

Trying out different combos of fabric….

… and different arrangements.

And when I liked the arrangement, I sewed all the elements together and trimmed it to 17 inches square.

And that’s how I make my Frankenbag panels. With whatever blocks I decide to use in a panel, it’s all just a matter of making the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Give it a try! This is really the fun part for me. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

Friday Night Finish

Holy cow! Am I glad that work week is over! Come on, weekend!

I had to work until after 8 pm tonight to get my annual budget ready to be submitted. Phew! What a ton of work.

Relaxed with a little time in the sewing room and finished up this Aboriginal fabric Frankenbag. And I just LOVE it!

I’m pretty sure this bag will be living with me. I can just picture myself carrying this through an airport some day.

I love that panel of thin strips on the right side of this bag too. I’m going to doing a little more of that in future bags.

I also finished up the body of this second border collie bag. The pieced panels were already made. Tonight I made the quilt sandwiches, quilted the two panels, made the handles and assembled the outside of the bag. So all I have to do now is make the lining and sew it in.

I’m thinking I might use that bold black and white cow print for the lining. I just love that fabric! I bought about nine yards of it several years ago at a ridiculously low price. Maybe I’m the only one in the US who likes this cow print!

Today is Bender’s eighth birthday! I can’t believe he’s eight already.

This photo was taken by my friend Heather when Bender was about a year old. Heather is an amazing photographer. She loves to take photos of dogs and puppies. She took photos of Bender every week from the time I brought him home at eight weeks old until he hit the six month mark. There are a LOT of photos of bender as a puppy.

Work kept me from baking him our traditional peanut butter, carrot and honey cake tonight. I’ll make one for him in the morning.

Too Tired to Finish

I’m so close to having this Aboriginal Frankenbag done, but I’m just too tired to do the final finishing. All I have left to do is sew in the lining and top stitch the top of the bag. The handles are from the darker faux leather I purchased.

I like to have a nice finish at the top of the bag… even sewing, nice pressing, and even top stitching. If you go to all the trouble of making a nice bag and then make a mess of the final piece that is the most visible, all the care is for naught. I’m so tired from a stressful week of work that I decided to stop at this point and finish it up tomorrow night when I’m more fresh.

Here’s the back of this bag:

That’s the lining under the bag. I just love that print! This fabric is left over from a backing I made for my Social Distancing quilt. That blog post shows the lining. This one shows the quilt top.

I just love these Aboriginal fabrics. The designs are so intricate and free form, and the colors are amazing. I might have to keep this one. But then I say that with every one I make!

Look at some of the fun little details in these fabrics.

I switched up the quilting on this one a little. I still did the match stick quilting at the top of the bag because I like the structure it brings. But I did the body of the bag with straight line quilting, spaced about 3.8 inch apart.

Tomorrow (Friday) is Bender’s eighth birthday! I can’t believe that I’m already seeing his face turn white. He felt very special today as he was the only dog who got to go with me on our two walks. Rico tweaked his back at our agility lesson last night and had to stay home by himself. He was not happy about this situation! I will cook a peanut butter, carrot and honey birthday cake for him tomorrow night. Rico will get some too.

Facebook fed me this memory of my Parson Russell Terriers Forrest (left) and Skeeter yesterday. Look how cute they were! This photo was taken shortly before Bender was born. We were anxiously waiting for news that a boy border collie was born and would be on his way to us!

I lost my magnificent Forrest about 3.5 years ago when he was 14.5 years old. I loved that dog like I’ll never love another dog. Skeeter is living with a friend of mine on Vashon Island, Washington. She has a pretty amazing life and is thriving.

I went out this afternoon to check on my apple tree and was happy to see some really healthy looking buds.

This tree can be really hit and miss on how much fruit it produces. Two summers ago I was buried in apples. I just couldn’t keep up. I was making a batch of apple sauce and a dehydrator full of apple slices every evening and still couldn’t keep up. Last year I barely had any apples.

I had my yard guy prune this tree way back a few weeks ago. But he left me a couple branches that are the ones that usually bear the most fruit. So I’m hopeful that I’ll have a reasonable amount of apples this year.

Look at the amazing weather we have coming up. It would normally be raining at this time of year. I actually had to water a portion of my lawn this afternoon.

Big Old Pile of Aboriginal Fabric Scraps

I dug into my bag of Aboriginal fabric scraps and started making crumb blocks for a tote bag last night. I don’t know why, but I tend to think of Aboriginal fabrics as being darker in tone. I wanted to see how these crumb blocks would look when they’re assembled so I lined them up on my cutting table. And what do you know… not very dark at all!

Here’s a closer look:

Pretty darned vibrant and colorful. I just love these fabrics!

A couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me a ridiculous pile of Aboriginal scraps, including around 50 2.5 inch WOF strips, tons of strips of varying widths, smaller pieces perfect for crumb piecing, and a pile of larger scraps.

I plan to eventually make a string quilt from these scraps. There’s probably enough that I can save the 2.5 inch strips for a 16 patch or trip quilt.

I think I have enough crumbs made for at least two Frankenbags. I’ll have to make some accent blocks since I don’t have any Aboriginal orphan blocks.

I just love little piles of trimmings!

The darker brown piece of faux leather I ordered was delivered today. I really like the color. It’s not as dark as I thought it would. It’s a nice rich brown. The top one is what I used on the border collie bag.

The darker one feels a little thicker and stiffer. I think it will still sew up ok, but I’ll keep an eye on it. Some denim sewing machine needles I ordered were also delivered today.

Three more blog readers have sent me photos of their tote bags made from my Frankenbag tutorial. It’s really fun to see the different style of each person show so nicely in their bags.

This bright and sunny bag was made by Elizabeth Wellenstein. I just love the colors and fabrics! I really like the straight line quilting too. I need to incorporate that in an upcoming bag.

This next bag was made by Susanne Biso. I just LOVE the modern feel of this one. It’s really a cool approach to this bag. And I love the little key fob she added to the pocket. This one gives me all kinds of ideas!

This last one was made by Sheila Plock. I love the diagonal strips on that large block. And the colors on the crumb piecing on the back are pretty fabulous.

She also used that gorgeous Philip Jacobs Padma for her lining. It’s so fabulous!

Sheila also sent this photo of an adorable Easter dog.

We have been having such an amazing streak of weather here in Portland. It’s been sunny and warm and just perfect. This time of year can be so wonderful here. The cherry trees are in bloom… so beautiful. Here’s one we saw on our walk this evening.

The next ten days look spectacular with lots of sun, no rain, and temps in the high 50s and mid 60s. Perfect spring weather. I think I’m going to have to water my lawn next week. It’s usually pretty rainy here this time of year. I’m guessing the rain will come back soon, but in the mean time I’ll enjoy this glorious weather and the evening light that I love so much.

Of Course I’d Make a Border Collie Frankenbag!

I’ve been making two of these bags at the same time over the last few days and finally finished this first one up tonight.

It feels good to use up part of the large pile of black and white scraps that I have. But I probably still have enough to make two more bags… at least. I also have A LOT of that border collie fabric. It can be hard to find so when I see it I usually buy a couple yards.

Here’s the back of this bag. I actually like the back of the bag better with just crumb quilting, rather than including larger blocks.

I also made the handles on this bag longer so that It can go over your shoulder comfortably. It’s a good handle length… the bag just nestles right into my waist. So the handles aren’t so long that you can’t carry it by the handles.

And speaking of handles… the first four of these bags I made had cork handles. And that meant that I had used up all the cork I had. So I looked around and found some on fabric.com. Well, it came the other day and it’s really thin and feels pretty flimsy. I toyed with the idea of using some batting inside the handle to give it some body, but I just don’t feel confident that the cork will wear well at all.

So I went online to see what options I had. Leather is really expensive and I’d hate to put that kind of money into a product that I can’t see and feel first. I landed on some “vegan leather” as they call it, or faux leather. It arrived this evening and I really like it! It’s soft and flexible and it sewed up nicely. The color of the one that arrived tonight is “brown” but seems a little orange to me. I also ordered a darker brown that will arrive in a few days. I’m curious to see what that color looks like.

Here’s a look at the inside of the bag. The lining is a white and black paisley. And I LOVE a good paisley. the pocket is a fun pop of Brandon Mably’s Jumble, white with black spots.

We had a nice weekend with some really incredible weather. Saturday I took my car in for an oil change. I left the dogs at home, but took a 4.5 mile walk by myself as they worked on my car, rather than sitting in the waiting room. Then I hurried home and ate some lunch, tossed the dogs in the car and headed down to Mollala, OR, for a sheep herding lesson. Rico was, of course, amazing!

After the lesson my friend and I took the dogs for a short hike down to the creek so they could cool off. Of course, we forced them to pose for a photo.

That’s some pretty awkward posing!!! But here’s a natural poser! Bender is an excellent level poser!

This morning I took the dogs for a nice 4.5 mile walk around the neighborhood, and then a friend of mine I haven’t seen for over a year came by with her husband to pick up the bamboo I had dug out last week. She is an amazing gardener and brought me a Rose of Sharon, a primrose, and some perennial grasses from her garden. I’m so excited about the Rose of Sharon!!! Here’s a photo I took of one back in September.

Those blooms are probably at least five inches across. I’m pretty excited to have one of these in my yard.

I got all the plants she brought me planted in pots this afternoon and then did some weeding. It was an absolutely glorious day!

My friends brought me a really good ham dinner for Easter. They keep me fed on all the holidays!

After dinner I took the boys for another quick walk so we could all get our yayas out. And we saw this a couple blocks into our walk.

That’s a lot of peeps!

One More KFC Scrappy and Reader Makes

I finished putting this Frankenbag together tonight. And I like it a lot more than I thought I was going to.

I think the black and white jumble, crease, and the swirly background fabric help these crazy fabrics make sense.

Here’s the other side of the bag.

And I love the black and white crease lining on this bag. I think it works much nicer than a bold print would have.

And that pocket made out of jumble. Well, it’s kind of fabulous!

Two of my blog readers made bags from my Frankenbag Tutorial and sent me photos of what they made. It was really fun to get to see them. I asked them if I could share them here and they were on board!

Poppy MacLean made this one that includes what looks like stack and whack KFC orphan blocks and some fun checkerboard piecing on the other side. I love all the color on this one! Those pops of orange are pretty fabulous!

Sharon Osborne also made one from KFC scraps. She included a really fun paper pieced plant in a pot, with lots of orphan nine patches. That green jumble is really bold and I love it!

Here’s the back with some great little nine patches.

Sharon’s paper pieced plant reminded me of a book I purchased a few months ago that features some similar blocks.

She’s gotten all kinds of creative juices flowing for me! You will probably see a little potted plant in a bag very soon.

I’m thinking my next bag will include some border collie and sheep fabrics surrounded by a variety of black and white fabrics.

The crumb piecing will be made from the various black and white fabrics and the accent blocks will use the border collie and sheep fabrics. Haven’t decided yet what those blocks will be. I made some zipper pouches out of these fabrics a few years ago.

I have a lot of black and white fabrics. They are some of my favorites.

I celebrated my 11th anniversary of starting work at Oregon Public Broadcasting today. My job there is heading up the membership fundraising team. I’m so lucky to work with a group of really amazing people. I can’t believe how fortunate I am.

This job was the reason I picked up my life and moved to Portland from Salt Lake City. I’d had my eye on this job for quite a few years and when I got a call asking if I’d ever considered a move to Oregon, I jumped on it. I’ve never regretted the move. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years.

When I celebrated my tenth anniversary last year, sitting alone in my guest room office, I never had any idea that I’d celebrate the next one in the same way. I’m hoping for good things to come and that I’ll be celebrating with friends and co-workers in person next year.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Portland. It was in the mid 60s and sunny. A truly glorious spring day. My yard guy came by to plant the trees he brought by a week or so ago. But before that he wanted to dig the bamboo out of the stock tanks on my patio so we could get a clear view to position my new trees. The tanks were terribly root bound and the bamboo removal turned out to be a huge job. Five hours later he had gotten out four clumps.

This is really tall bamboo. We had hoped it would grow and fill in to provide much needed shade to my patio on summer afternoons and evenings. But it failed to thrive so we’re abandoning that hope after several years. I will use the stock tanks as raised garden beds this summer. I’m looking forward to fresh lettuce throughout most of the summer.

A friend of mine will come and pick up the bamboo and plant it in her yard. She is also bringing me a clump of smaller bamboo that I’ll put in a pot on my patio. My yard guy will come back tomorrow and we’ll finalize the location for my new patio shade trees and he’ll get them in the ground.