Sweet Little Tree Ornaments — A Bit of a Tutorial

I was looking at a ridiculously large number of really cute little fabric ornaments on one of my Pinterest boards last night and decided that I wanted to figure out how to make my own take on them. Here’s one of the final ornaments that I made tonight after I worked out some kinks in the first few I made.

After work tonight I drew up a paper piecing template on graph paper and made copies. This “tutorial” assumes you know the basics of paper piecing. Here’s a tutorial on Youtube for basic paper piecing.

It measures 3 1/2 inches square before you add the 1/4 inch seam allowance. It’s a pretty simple bit of paper piecing.

Here’s a pdf of my template in case you want to give this a try.

The first thing I did was dig through some KFC and batik scraps for fabrics that would work for trees. That triangle in the middle of the template (#1) is where you put your tree fabric.

And I saw this brown batik that would work well for the tree trunks.

I also pulled out a bin of white-on-white fabrics to use for the background fabrics. There were two perfect ones — one with polka dots that look like a snow fall and one with cute little snow flakes.

Before I started working on the template I made the tree trunks. I cut strips of the brown fabric to 3/4 inch wide. Then I sewed this strip between two 2-inch wide strips of the background.

I pressed the seam allowances toward the white so there would be less bulk.

Then I trimmed off the edges and cut these strips into pieces.

I originally cut these to 3/4 inches wide, but after the first one I made, I adjusted these cuts to 1-1/4 inches wide. I did this so that I could make a 1/2 inch seam allowance on the bottom where I left the opening to stuff the ornament. A 1/2 inch seam allowance makes it easier to close the opening on the bottom and have it look nice. 1/4 inch just isn’t enough to work with.

Then I pieced the tree and two side background pieces. The tree trunk was sewn on last. You’ll want to make sure the tree trunk is centered. Ask me how I know this…

Good grief that’s annoying!

Once you’re at this stage you’ll want to trim this piece from the back, making sure to add a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the top and sides, and a full 1/2 inch seam allowance on the bottom. MY TEMPLATE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE SEAM ALLOWANCES. Just line up your ruler, leaving 1/4 inch of the ruler extending beyond the line on the template, and cut. Be sure to leave 1/2 inch on the bottom.

Next, I basted a length of thin ribbon to the top of this piece. You can position the two ends of the ribbon any way you’d like… right next to each other, or with some space. But get them as close to centered as you can. Make sure the line of basting will be inside your seam allowance so it won’t show from the outside.

You can also make this ribbon to the length you like. Six inches is a pretty good length. I made some too long and ended up knotting the top to shorten them.

I don’t have a lot of colors in that ribbon so I made the string on the first photo from yarn. You could use twine or yarn or whatever floats your boat.

Next, cut a solid piece of the background fabric to the same size as your little block. It should be 3.5 x 3.75 inches. It’s not a bad idea to measure your block to be sure. Pin these two pieces right sides together and stitch around the outside — 1/4 inch seam allowance on the top and sides, and about 1/2 inch seam allowance along the bottom. Be sure to leave an opening on the bottom so you can stuff the ornament with batting.

Here’s an image showing how I do the stitching.

Those blue lines at the bottom are the best thing I’ve learned during the pandemic– they’re just little lines of stitching that go from the seam line out to the edge of the fabric. I first saw this technique on a mask pattern that I tried. Those little lines of stitching make it so much easier to close an opening. I use this technique any time I have to leave an opening and close it later.

When sewing, I start with the blue line on the lower left, stitch around the red line, and finish with the blue line on the lower right.

Once your block and back are stitched together, clip the corners, then gently turn it inside out. Carefully push out the corners, give it a press, making sure you carefully align and press the sides of the opening before stuffing.

Next, stuff it with some batting or fiber fill. You can stuff it as full as you like. Mine are moderately stuffed.

On the first few I made I just closed this opening by machine. But the fourth one I made was closed with hand stitching, and it turned out much nicer. It’s worth the three minutes it takes to close it by hand.

Here’s some more photos of the four that I made tonight. They would make nice little gifts or would be great tied on a package.

I will make more of these. I might do something fun with piecing the tree section to make it really interesting. Maybe some crumb piecing, or wonky strips. Maybe some quilting. Maybe some decorative stitching. All kinds of ideas!

I had a pretty productive Sunday. I made three feed bag tote bags for a friend who wants some for her husband for a holiday gift.

I also managed to get my holiday lights and decorations up in my front yard. I just love all the white lights.

I also whipped up four dog toys that will be mailed to a family member for their dog’s Christmas gifts.

My boys do not understand why they can’t play with these perfectly good toys.

Me and the Swedish Quilt Guild

Last spring I received an email from Britt-Inger Jönsson who introduced herself as the chair of the board of the Swedish National Quilting Guild, 2,000 members strong.

That’s Britt-Inger in a top she made with KFC fabrics. She said that quilting is not a large traditional craft in Sweden, but they have a very active guild. In Swedish, the guild is called Rikstäcket, which translates to National Quilt. It started way back in 1983.

They have a print magazine that is published four times a year and is distributed to their members. They also have a website: https://www.rikstacket.se, which Britt-Inger also manages. They have a Facebook group with quilters from Sweden, Norway and Denmark. As part of their Facebook group, they also do quilt alongs. And last spring, my Frankenbag was one of the suggested projects.

A good number of the bags made by members of the guild have appeared here on my blog.

After a couple of emails back and forth, Britt-Inger asked me if I would be interested in doing an interview with her and asked if I would be ok with her translating my tutorial into Swedish. Of course I said yes! My interview and tutorial would be included in an upcoming guild magazine. So we scheduled some time to talk over zoom and had a wonderful conversation, and a couple months later I received a copy of the magazine in my mail box.

I sat right down and went through the magazine. There are a lot of patterns and projects and other really wonderful stuff in there, and I really wish I could read Swedish!

And then I came to the part Britt-Inger had written up from our conversation. It’s pretty amazing! There was a full two-page spread with a lot of photos.

I used Google Translate on that headline and I think it’s essentially “small scraps become colorful quilt tops.” Maybe someone from the guild will provide a better translation.

Here’s a closer look at those pages.

And a closer look at my colorful projects!

And there were two more full pages for the Frankenbag tutorial.

Experiences like this really illustrate how wonderful the Internet can be! Throughout the pandemic I’ve met (virtually) and heard from so many amazing people who, like me, are finding inspiration with beautiful fabrics and the work of others. Being connected with so many people through my blog has helped me deal with the isolation and boredom that is a part of our lives now.

I’ve been saving this Frankenbag to share with you because it was submitted by one of the Swedish Quilt Guild members. It was made by Wendy Jansson from Östhammar, Sweden. I love her bright and bold colors are graphic piecing. The wavy quilting is pretty cool too!

I just want to thank you for the fantastic turtorial for making frankenbags. I saw you first on Pinterest and then our quilt guild here in Sweden did an article about making these bags. I had such fun making this and I am sure I will be making more. The turtorial is informative, clear and very fun. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Wendy wrote, “I just want to thank you for the fantastic tutorial for making Frankenbags. I saw you first on Pinterest and then our quilt guild here in Sweden did an article about making these bags. I had such fun making this and I am sure I will be making more. The tutorial is informative, clear and very fun. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.”

And Birthe Aust sent me photos of another bag she made. Birthe is from Denmark. I wonder if she’s familiar with the Swedish Quilting Guild.

She has made a good number of Frankenbags! And I love all of them. I love that photo in the center. The reds she’s used are so fantastic! Another nice one from Birthe!

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends yesterday. We were all vaccinated and boosted. We’ve had Thanksgiving together for quite a few years now. My friend who hosts makes the turkey and stuffing, and the rest of us bring all the other side dishes. I’m always responsible for the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and the gravy. I make really good gravy!

Of course we skipped last year. I think the meal we came up with yesterday was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had! It was so nice to be with friends again!

It was such a beautiful day too. My friend who hosted purchased a 15 acre piece of property down near Salem, Oregon, a few months ago. This was the first time I had seen her place. We had a nice walk around her property while our many dogs ran an played and took a dip in the creek. We always have dinner, then take the dogs out for a run while we digest. And then we’re ready for pie when we get back!

I had today off of work and I made a last minute decision to make the drive up to Olympia, Washington, to take a sheep herding lesson and it was a good decision! The weather was perfect and it felt really good to spend a few hours outside with dogs and sheep.

Take a look at this beauty!

Rico did a really good job at his lesson and I’m pretty sure his brain hurt a little by the time we were done. He really had to do a lot of thinking out there.

And before we jumped in the car for the nearly 2.5 hour drive home we got a good field run in. Look how gorgeous it was!

I am so fortunate to live in such a gorgeous part of the world!

Happy weekend everyone!

Three Quilts Ready to Ship

On a weekend with not much on the agenda I did have one task that I wanted to get done: get labels put on three quilts so I can get them shipped for the holidays.

This first one is made on a pattern called Lucky Stars.

Here’s the full quilt. It was made from all batik scraps. A friend of mine made the same quilt and about 1/3 of these fabrics were left over from her quilt.

This next one is basically the same quilt as the one I gifted to my brother and his wife last week. It has some different fabrics in the blocks on the front and the backing is different. I had almost enough fabric left over from the first one to make a second. I just added a few different fabrics.

This last one was an impulse make earlier in the pandemic. I used up a lot of batik scraps on this one.

Here’s the full quilt. I constructed it sewing strips onto sheets of paper, making sure it was nice and wonky. It went together really fast.

It’s really bright and cheerful.

I started out Sunday morning with a drive out west of Portland to Hillsboro to pick up some cattle feed bags from a friend of mine and took the dogs for a nice brisk field romp as the fog was lifting. It was only about 35 degrees when we were out there. I’m guessing there was a good frost on the ground before we got there.

It was so gorgeous! And the boys got a good run in. They’ve been feeling it all day! It was good for all of us to get away from the same view and get some fresh air.

Later in the afternoon I got my new lights put up on my patio. These lights are really all for me. I hate that it gets dark at 4 pm in the dead of winter here in Portland. These lights give me a little more cheerful view out of the back of my house.

I even put out my old living room birch tree with LED lights. I bought a new one for the house a few weeks ago because this one is getting ratty. But it looks great on the patio.

It will be nice to see the lights from my desk as I finish up the last couple hours of my work day.

I’ve gotten a lot of Frankenbags the last week or so. This first one was made by Eliza Claire, an old friend of mine. She said she loved making the bag and was really happy with how it turned out. She hasn’t been sewing and quilting for very long and I’m really impressed with how well made this bag is.

The fabric she used was destashed by a friend of mine a few years ago. Since it has poodles on it I knew Eliza would love it — she’s had many poodles over the years I’ve known her.

This next bag was made by Brenda Guthrie. I love that this bag is blue, but not too blue. All kinds of color pops there! And I really like those white and black fabrics she used. And that lining is so good! What a great use for that fabric!

This next bag was made by Carol May. I love the cool and moody feel of her fabrics. It almost feels like the moments right before total darkness. And the way she used the onion rings on the inside of her handles is really fun. Lots of really fun crumb piecing here.

This next bag is from Cindy Clark. I just love her fabrics. So much saturated color there. It’s fun to see if I can identify the designs… and I see a good number of fabrics from the newest KFC collection in there. And wow! I love the lining! Those big blooms are so good!

Next up is a this bag made by Lori Schaeffer Taylor. She’s used some really fun vintage look fabrics here. Plus she’s added a zipper placket! That adds so much functionality to these bags.

Last up is a whole bunch of bags made by Ellen Johnson. She’s been really busy! She’s also added a lot of features and customizations to her bags, including velcro closures and various pockets and dividers. She’s even made zipper pouches to go with some of them. I think I can guess what her friends and family are getting for the holidays!

I can’t believe the amazing bags people are making! It’s so much fun to see how creative and skilled everyone is. Thanks to these ladies and to everyone who’s set photos of their Frankenbags!

I’ve got a short work weeks coming up because of Thanksgiving. I’ll also be taking Friday off. My birthday is on Thanksgiving this year! So it will e an extra special day.

Dumpster Diving at the Farm Store

After our walk this morning I headed down to Canby, Oregon, to visit a friend and pick up a few feed bags from her. Then I went to the farm store to rifle through their feed bag recycle bins. So not quite dumpster diving, but I was doing some serious diving into feed bags.

And I found some really fun ones!

How cute is that? I just love it. Unfortunately, there were only two of these bags in the bin. But I did find a few other pig feed bags.

The one on the left is pretty dirty. But since it was the only one in the bin, I brought it home. I got several of the one on the right. And I’ve never seen a pig like that!

I also found some goats, more chickens and some horses.

I had a little bit of time this evening so I whipped up the pig and horse bags.

Tomorrow I’m going to go and pick up some cattle bags from a friend. She’s been saving them for me for a few weeks.

On Thursday I had a monthly quilt guild Zoom meeting so while I listened I did some tidying in my sewing room. It’s amazing how quickly that room gets disheveled. I found the fabric for the backing of the sunburst quilt in my last post. It’s Kaffe’s Lotus Leaf in wine. One of my favorites!

I KNEW that I had bought that fabric! I’m so glad I found is so easily.

I also found some fabric that had gotten buried. I completely forgot that I had bought this.

that’s almost all KFC fabrics. There are a few other brands/designers in that pile.

Rico has laid claim on my guest room over the last few days. He’s been snoozing in there pretty much every day while I work.

And look at these good boys!

Tomorrow I plan on getting labels on three quilts that I need to get ready to ship for the holidays.

Feeding My Fabric Appetite

Earlier in the fall my friend’s dog Jolene came and stayed with us for a week. In appreciation, my friend gave me a really nice gift certificate to one of my favorite online fabric sellers. I wanted to use the certificate to purchase some fabrics from the new KFC collection. I had to wait for a number of weeks until they had them in stock.

Well, they finally got them in stock and I went a little crazy. I added some of my own money to the gift certificate and bought 25 half yards. Here’s the first group.

So many really great fabrics in there! I just love the one in the upper left in the different color ways. I actually bought two yards of the white one, but the store only sent 1/2 yard. They have shipped the remainder and it should be here in a couple days.

Here’s the rest of the fabrics that came in that shipment.

You really have to see these fabrics in person to see how amazing they are. The scale on the green and purple fabric on the lower right is so amazing! I can’t wait to cut it up and see what it looks like!

I’m happy to report that there actually are some fabrics from this new collection that I DIDN’T buy!

I received another shipment from a different online store that I frequent for KFC fabrics. It’s the fabric I bought to use as the setting triangles for my bright sunburst quilt.

I decided to go with the Millefiore.

So, why did I decide on this fabric? First, I love this fabric in this color way and have wanted to use it in something for quite awhile. Second, I really considered who I’m making this for and their tastes. I felt confident they would like a darker and richer fabric for the setting triangles. Third, I considered the fabric I plan to use for the backing and how it will work with this print. Fourth, I just really like the way it looks!

I’m making this quilt for my brother and his wife… the same brother who I just gifted the Aboriginal quilt to. He saw a photo of the blocks earlier this year and told me how much he liked it, which was so surprising to me because he is usually very conservative when it comes to color. I didn’t have anyone in mind when I was making this so I asked him if he wanted it. And he said yes.

I dug out my notes on this quilt and confirmed that I only need to make seven more blocks and then I can get going on putting this top together. I can probably whip up these seven blocks easily in a couple hours in my sewing room. It’s going to be big — a generous queen size. There are a lot of blocks, but I also plan on adding some borders to make it a little bigger.

I’m also pretty sure that I bought a large piece of fabric for the backing for this quilt a few months ago. I looked for it this weekend and can’t find it anywhere. I will turn my sewing room upside down this weekend to locate it.

Speaking of my brother…. here’s a picture of my Aboriginal quilt in their living room. My brother sent me a photo of my sister-in-law sleeping under it when the arrived home on Sunday. It felt a little invasive to include that photo here!

But I do love that they are already using it. I love it when people actually use the things I make.

I looked out my sliding glass door yesterday and saw what must have been 100 crows on my lawn.

There are a lot of crows in my neighborhood. it’s not unusual at all to see them in sizeable groups. It is, however, a little odd to see so many of them on the lawn. It had rained earlier that morning and I’m thinking that the worms were driven out of the ground.

My friend who brought Ernie over for a visit last week posted this photo! Ernie was definitely in charge in this trio!

Bender and Rico are such good boys!

Aboriginal Quilt Is Gifted

I had a wonderful long weekend with a visit from my brother and his wife. They drove up on Thursday, a really rainy day. Friday was even more rainy and wet and we stuck around home most of the day but did manage to run a couple errands. But Saturday was beautiful so we were able to get outside.

This was the first time I’ve seen them since I recently got all my quilts back from my long arm quilter. So it was the perfect time to gift them the quilt I made them.

If you haven’t already seen my posts on this quilt, you can find several of them here, here and here. I originally called this quilt my Social Distancing quilt, but that name just doesn’t work for my brother and his wife since there’s rarely much distance between them!

I just love this quilt! The fabrics and colors are so amazing. And my brother and his wife love that they are authentic Aboriginal designs. They are excited to dig into the M&S Textiles webpage and read the stories of the artists and their designs.

Here’s a view of the full quilt on this beautiful fall morning.

They promised me that they will actually use this quilt. It will reside on the back of their sofa. I can’t wait to see photos of it in their house.

Here’s a few more photos. Click on each photo to enlarge.

With the rainy weather on Friday, we took advantage and my brother helped me assemble a stand-up desk that I purchased for working from home a couple months ago. I’ve dreaded putting it together. It was much easier with two of us.

He even attached a power strip to the wall for me.

It’s going to be so nice to have the option to stand up while working. I have a stand-up desk at my actual office and it’s one of the things I miss the most about working from home.

You can see that I’m surrounded by dog photos as I work!!!

Since the weather was nice yesterday I was able to do my regular sheep herding lesson and Rico was amazing. We’ve been working on his driving (where he needs to move the sheep around the field at my direction). This is more difficult to train as the dog’s natural instinct is to bring the sheep to the handler, rather than moving the sheep away from the handler. I’ve seen some really wonderful progress in Rico’s driving in the last few weeks. It’s very exciting to see. Here we are after our lesson… we are both pretty pleased with ourselves!

On the way home from my lesson we stopped for a nice walk and field run for the dogs, and then we stopped at a large nursery to check out some plants. It was absolutely gorgeous, but it’s a little early for Christmas for me.

Oh, and I just remembered that on Thursday my friend brought her border terrier Ernie by for a visit. I just love Ernie!!! I don’t think I’ll ever own another Jack Russell, as much as I love them, but there is a strong likelihood that I WILL have a border terrier in the house some day.

It’s Sunday morning around 10:30 as I’m writing this. I’m going to grab a shower and then take the boys for a nice long walk. Then my plan is to settle into my sewing room and get these blocks back up on the design wall.

And Now… Back to This

I’ve been thinking about my unfinished projects recently… again. I’ve been specifically thinking about this quilt. It’s made in a very free form way, starting with a piece of Kaffe’s sunburst fabric in the corner, and then free form pieced strips on two sides. It’s all made from Kaffe Fassett Collective scraps.

Here’s a view of some of the blocks.

I’m really close to having all the blocks done that I need for a queen size bed quilt. I think I only need to make five or six more and then I can get it on the design wall. I’m just stumped, once again, on what to do about those setting triangles.

I have posted previously about trying to decide what I was going to do for setting triangles. After experimenting with a bunch of different options, I decided to just make the same blocks but a little larger and cut them in half for the setting triangles.

And now I’ve changed my mind. Partly because I am really just wanting to be done with this and don’t want to make another 15 or so blocks. Partly because I like the effect of the setting triangles made from yardage. Partly because I want to put that bin of scraps away!

So tonight I pulled out some fabrics that are mostly shades of yellow to try out. I had an idea in my head as I started pulling fabrics and it’s in this set of photos. Here’s what I came up with.

After sending these photos to a friend tonight and a follow up phone conversation, I’ve decided on one of these — my idea that prompted this evening process. Can you guess which one it is?

I even went online and ordered the fabric tonight. So I’m definitely committed. Maybe that will prevent me from changing my mind. Ha! I kill me.

I am really looking forward to getting this thing in the done pile. It will be finished and given to my brother and his wife.

A friend of mine gave me a gift certificate to Island Quilter for taking care of her dog, Jolene, when she went on vacation earlier this fall. So tonight I went online and ordered a bunch of the new KFC collection. I exceeded the certificate she gave me, but didn’t buy the entire collection. I was amazed at my restraint. I can’t wait to see the fabrics in person. I’ve only seen a few pieces of the new collection. it’s always different to see them in person.

A Little Sheep Herding, a Little House Keeping, and More Feedbag Totes

After a really stressful week of work last week (I had five hours of Zoom meetings to start my Friday!) I was really happy to have a Saturday filled with sheep herding for me and Rico. I had my regular weekly herding lesson in the morning, and then high tailed it down to Molalla, Oregon, for a lesson with a different trainer in the afternoon.

I really lucked out in the weather. There were showers coming and going all day and every turn I had with the sheep was nice and dry. I even got to see a full rainbow accompanied by sheep and a dog!

It was a nice cool day so the host of the second lesson had a lovely fire going to keep us all warm between turns with the trainer.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been around a nice camp fire. And I smelled just like bacon when I got home!

While we were there I took my boys for a nice field run to stretch their legs since we would not be getting a walk at all that day. They do love their field runs!

Sunday, I spent most of the day house keeping as I actually have company coming later this week. This will be the first time I’ve had company come and stay since the pandemic hit! I hope I’ve maintained a few of my social graces so I don’t offend anyone! Company also means I’ll have a short work week since I’ll be taking Thursday and Friday off. This part makes me really happy! It’s been a stressful few weeks.

The view of this little red maple tree has been keeping me happy at work for a couple weeks. I’m really happy that I planted it where I get a good view of it from my desk.

My company will be taking home with them one of the Aboriginal fabric quilts I made this year. So last night I sat down in my sewing room and got the label affixed to the quilt. It definitely looks hand sewn!

I will find a different method for stitching the edges of the next one. The label has been affixed using a fusible webbing. So the stitching is partially decorative… which makes this even more sad! I have no plans to become known for my hand work!!!

I need to get three more labels affixed to quilts to I can get them shipped in plenty of time for the holidays.

I’ve been chunking away on a few more feedbag totes over the last few days. Guess which one is my favorite…

I’m getting really fast at cranking these out. I made three tonight in about an hour. The hardest part is just wrestling with all that stiff fabric.

I have some more Frankenbags to share with you tonight.

This first one was made by Nyla Bales… at least I think that might be her name. I kind of made assumptions by looking at the email. I hope I’m not wrong. This is her first Frankenbag and she made it for her mom. I love her scrappy approach. I think her mom will love this!

Next up is this bag made by Mary Sanderson. Mary is 83 and lives in the UK. She said she loves to make fabric crafts and learn new skills… she’s never quilted before! She is going to donate this bag to a local charity that works with women who have been trafficked. I think she did a great job and for a great cause!

Next up is this bag from Wendy Shapiro. I just love those cool periwinkle blue notes and the pops of color! It’s just really fun and eclectic! And she went for it with the lining! And you know I love that! This is Wendy’s first Frankenbag and she said she’s off to the races with more.

These next bags are from Eleanor Reidy. I love that she used the wavy design that I tried a couple of months ago. And she used some really bold colors! I love that she turned the waves vertical for one of her bags. Eleanor said she’s a recently new quilter — started during COVID — and she’s found her true love for it! Her cousin gave her one of her older Berninas and she was on her way. I hope we see more from her!

Next up is this bag made by Joyce Ruff. She said she enjoyed making her summer Frankenbag so much that she made one using more autumnal colors. She likes the size so much because it can hold a book, umbrella, or sweater and still be lightweight.

I just love her fabrics and that nice dense horizontal quilting! And it looks really good with the flowers on her patio. And look… another zipper placket. This bag reminds me of warm spices, like a rich butternut squash soup with Indian spices. Mmmmm. So good!

Thanks to everyone who sent photos! There’s so much inspiration there!

A Bit of a Feedbag Tote Bag Tutorial

A lot of people have been asking me how I made my feedbag tote bags, so I decided to make a quick tutorial. These bags are really quick and easy to put together, so this shouldn’t take too long.

Here’s the bag I made for this tutorial.

Here’s another one I made last night.

It seems like the size of the bag corresponds with the size of the animal.

The first thing you want to think about is selecting your feed bag. You can use any bag (chicken feed, goat feed, bird feed, horse feed, etc…), but I like the ones that are made from a woven synthetic fiber, coated with plastic, rather than just plastic. This picture shows the inside of the bag. I like bags that have fun and colorful images.

If you have friends with chickens, you may be able to get feed bags from them. I have a good number of friends who have various livestock, so I’ve gotten a lot of bags… sheep, horses, cows, goats, etc… If you don’t know anyone with animals, you might want to check with your local farm store and see if they know of a source. One of our local farm stores has a recycling area for feed bags. I’m guessing they would let people just take what’s been put there. I even saw some for sale on Etsy the other night.

Once you have your bag, you’ll want to make sure it’s clean. If the bag was for a dry food and clean food, I find that a wipe down with a damp cloth is enough. Some feed is dirtier and stickier and stinkier… these bags will require more cleaning. You might want to cut off the top and bottom of the bag, turn it inside out, and run it through your washing machine if it’s really bad.

Once you have a nice clean bag, the first thing you’ll want to do it cut off the top and bottom of the bag to make sure it’s all even and square. The size is up to you. I like to have mine cut a little taller than they are wide. The bag I made for this tutorial started out at about 15 inches wide by 21 inches. I’m not including the width of the sides of the bag. Just the actual front/back section.

Most of these bags have a pleat or fold on the side.

I have the sides folded in, as in this photo, when I’m measuring and trimming the bags.

The width of these folded sections varies from bag to bag. This bag has a really wide folded section.

Also important to know… use the bag at the full width and then there’s no need for side seams — don’t cut the sides. You’ll use the folds in the bag to form the gussets and sides of the bag. It’s like magic!

So once your bag is all trimmed and even, mark the top of the bag to place your handles. On a large bag like this horse feed bag, I measure over 7 inches from each side and mark (I do this because it’s easier than folding the bag to find the center!). Then I make a mark between that mark and the side of the bag, 3.5 inches away from the mark. Do this on each side of the 7 inch mark. I make these marks about 1 1/4 inch from the top of the bag. That way I can see them when the top edge is folded over. Mark each side of the feed bag.

This photo shows the 7 inch mark from the folded edge, and the 3.5 inch mark to the right of it. The mark at the right is where you will place the handle.

This next photo shows all the marks on this side of the bag: the two 7 inch marks in the center, and the 3.5 inch marks on either side.

Next, with the bag right side out, you’re going to fold over about 3/4 inch all the way around the top of the bag and finger press. These bags take well to finger pressing. Which is good because using a hot iron would be a hot mess. Get it? A HOT mess!

Once you’ve finger pressed this first fold all around the top of the bag, fold that top edge over again, finger press the fold, and clip in place. Slip the handles up under the folded edge at the handle marks (centered on the mark), and clip them in place. Make sure your handles aren’t twisted.

I’m using nylon webbing that I bought online, cut to 22 inches long. You’ll need two handles. You can make handles from the sections of bag you cut away. I prefer the nylon handles.

These handles are not long enough to serve as shoulder straps. If you want shoulder straps, you’ll want to cut longer straps.

Next, you’re going to run a line of stitching all the way around the lower edge of that folded section, catching the handles in the fold as you go. I’ve stitched pretty close to that edge, but you can certainly sew your line 1/8 inch from the edge.

Once I’ve sewn all the way around, I lift my needle and presser foot and move the bag so that my needle is lined up with the top edge of the bag, and run another line of stitching all the way around, making sure you fold the handles up and stitch over each one as you come to it.

I also use my reverse button and twist the bag a little to do zig zag lines across the bag handle to reinforce it, making sure that I end up with my needle back on the right edge so I can continue my line of stitching around the top of the bag.

Once you’ve gone all the way around and have reinforced all four handle attachment points, you’re ready to sew the bottom of the bag closed.

Turn the bag inside out and lay it flat, opening up the folds on the sides. You don’t want to sew the folds in place. You want it all flat. Pin along the bottom edge and sew a line of stitching about 1/2 inch from the edge. Then sew another line of stitching about 1/4 inch below that first line. This will reinforce the bottom of the bag.

Now it’s time to make the gussets. Leave the bag inside out and put your hands inside and finger press the bottom seam you just sewed.

Then with one hand inside the bag and one outside the bag, start forming the gusset. you basically want to line the center of the side fold with the bottom seam. This photo shows the fold on the left and the seamed bottom on the right. You can see that they are lined up.

Holding the seam and the fold together from the outside, flatten out the gusset point, finger press the edges, and pin in place. Then, you’re going to draw on your seam line for the gusset. In this picture, I’ve marked the folds in the side of the bag so you can see them. You’ll want to run your line of stitching from where the fold lines on each side meet the folded edge of the gusset. This will ensure that your bag is square.

Sew one line of stitching along the marked line. Then sew another line 1/4 inch from this line on the point side of the line. This will reinforce the gusset.

Once you’ve sewed two lines of stitching on each gusset, trim off the excess fabric corners.

Then turn your bag right side out, finger press the gusset seams and you’re done!

Feedbag Tote bag!!!

Happy Fifth Birthday Rico!

I can’t believe Rico is five already! He’s just the sweetest and most sensitive dog I’ve ever had. And he has all the enthusiasm you could ever hope for.

I took this photo this morning.

Poor thing. He just hates posing so much. And yet I continue to torture him.

Rico was one of eight puppies born on November 1, 2016. Here he is on the day he was born.

Look at that big old foot!

This is Rico’s mama Mira with her eight puppies. Rico is somewhere in that puppy pile!

Here he is when he was a few weeks old and the puppies were given some goats milk. I’m pretty sure he went swimming in it!

This is Rico at about a month old. He was called Spot until I named him because he has a black spot on his belly.

Here he is at about four weeks old. I would know him anywhere!

This is me and Rico when I flew to Utah to bring him home to Oregon when he was 8 weeks old.

Oh, how I miss those gorgeous mountains!

This photo was taken the same day. Look at how big his feet were! I should have known he’d end up big!

These are the first photos my friend Heather took of Rico when he first came home to Oregon. She’s a wonderful photographer and I’m so lucky to have such amazing photos of my dogs.

Good lord. Just ridiculously cute!


These photos are from Rico’s first hike with all his border collie friends.

Such a sweet expression on his face.

And here he is enjoying the organic Oregon country side.

This photo was taken the day I sneaked Rico into the office to meet everyone there.

That’s a big bag and he didn’t fit in it for very long.

A week or so after I brought Rico home we had a huge snow storm. Forrest got cold out in the snow and Rico cuddled up next to him to keep him warm.

Rico and Bender were destined to be the best of friends.

He was always a beefcake!

I kept track of Rico’s growth by photos in this doorway.

I came home from work one day to find that Hurricane Rico had devastated the kitchen.

This was Rico’s very first trip to the Oregon Coast. I think he liked it.

Every puppy I’ve ever had discovers the toilet paper at some point.

And here’s proof that he actually can be a very bad dog.

This was the very first time Rico met sheep. Little did he know his future would have a lot of sheep in it.

My friend Heather took this photo of Rico to celebrate his first birthday. What a handsome and manly kid!

And Rico is more than just a pretty face. He’s incredibly athletic and talented. Look at all this power and concentration!

And he’s cool and collected when working on sheep.

We celebrated Rico’s birthday tonight with a peanut butter, banana and honey cake I made for him. He did not like waiting for it to cool.

Happy birthday Rico!