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

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 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.

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 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!

Another Frankenbag Finished

I’ve been chipping away on a couple of new Frankenbags over the last few days. Tonight I finished one and got the panels quilted for another one.

Here’s the front view of tonight’s finish.

It’s made from all KFC fabric scraps, except for one black and white fabric on the back — the one that’s set on the diagonal in the big block.

And here’s the back.

I decided to use one of my FAVORITE KFC fabrics for the lining — Paisley Jungle Tangerine. It’s so fantastic!!!

Hey! And look! It’s on the top of that wonky block on the front of the bag!

I’ve also been working on a bag made from the fabrics left over from this quilt. I finished piecing the panels last night and got them both quilted tonight. These fabrics are all KFC in the contrast colorway, except the jumbles aren’t contrast. And the swirly white background is not KFC.

These panels have taken some time to make because I’m somewhat limited on the scraps I have. It was tricky to make the blocks out of the limited longer strips I had available. But I made some fun ones.

One of the large blocks is a simple star block.

One smaller one is a not very perfect log cabin with a fussy cut center.

This other small block is free form and wonky with a fussy cut center.

And the larger block on the other panel is a sort of log cabin kind of thing.

I have a few crumb pieces left but not enough to make another tote. I’ll have to think about what I can make from them.

It was another nice day here in Portland. We had nice sunshine most of the day. The boys were happy when I stepped away from work for a game of frisbee.

I Got My Lamb Fix!

I visited my herding teacher at her sheep ranch Saturday and got to hang out and smooch on some lambs for an hour. It was a gorgeous sunny day full of lambs that were just hours old.

These little lambs had been born the night before. They were so tiny and so amazingly cute. Do I look happy? It was so fantastic!

I also learned a lot about what lambing season is like for a sheep ranch owner. I’m really glad I don’t have a sheep ranch of my own! But it’s really nice to have friends who do.

After seeing lambs my friend and I went to another friend’s place and did some sheep herding, followed by a nice hike with my boys on BLM land.

What a gorgeous spring day! Nothing like a sunny spring day in the Pacific Northwest.

I didn’t do any sewing last night because I had to be up ridiculously early today to head to Olympia, Washington, for a sheep herding trial. We were in the car and on our way at 5:15 this morning. By the way… I am NOT a morning person.

Rico did a great job at the trial and we were done nice and early. I was back home by noon. I took a little nap and then hit the sewing room and assembled the Frankenbag panels I started on Friday.

I got them both quilted and ready for assembly tonight. I used the same matchstick and wavy line quilting as on the other two bags I’ve made. I like the matchstick quilting at the top of the bag as it ads some additional structure to keep the shape.

After I started quilting I regretted that I hadn’t checked my bobbin to make sure there was enough thread to finish one piece. Well, I did run out part way through, but it happened right at the end of a row!

I didn’t finish the bags tonight because I’m pretty tired and was afraid I’d make a mistake. So I pulled out my KFC contrast color way scraps from my first Ruffled Feathers quilt and started putting together crumb blocks. Here’s a pile of the first chain pieced crumb pieces.

… and a nice stack of blocks of varying sizes that will be put together like puzzle pieces later.

I wanted to see how these would all look as larger piece so I laid some out side by side.

I think this will be a fun one! I will have to make a few accent blocks out of some rectangles that are left over since I don’t have any orphan blocks on these fabrics. Haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do for those blocks but I will be limited a bit by the sizes of the scraps. I’ll probably toss some low volume black and whites in there.

Spring Arrived in Portland Today

What an amazingly gorgeous day! It seems like all of a sudden it’s spring. My forsythia is getting ready to bloom.

So are my flowering pear trees…

I had a needed sleep in this morning, and after breakfast and a shower we headed out for a walk. I was going to do four miles, but it was so perfect out that we went ahead and did five miles. About half way though the walk I started thinking about sitting on the patio in the sun drinking a nice cold beer. So when we got home, that’s exactly what I did!

I wasn’t terribly productive today. In fact, it’s really hard to pinpoint where all the hours went today.

I did dig in and do some cleaning in my sewing room. I’ve bought so much fabric recently and have stacked it on my sewing table because I don’t really know where to put it. it’s starting to get in the way when I’m sewing.

So I cleaned out a couple drawers, organized some fabric by type, and was able to free up a couple of plastic bins and one entire drawer in the dresser in that room.

I was able to get my previous stash and recent purchases of white with black fabrics into one plastic bin. This is a short term solution. I have more of these coming from three different online stores… almost 40 more half yards coming.

I think I’m going to need to clean out the closet in that room and get some shelves in there to organize it all.

I also organized the quilt tops I’ve finished since the pandemic hit. I took the ones that I don’t have any specific plans for and put them in a box and stowed that in the guest room closet. I have a stack of several quilts that I plan on giving as gifts for the holidays later this year. I need to get them quilted this summer so they’ll be ready to ship in the fall.

I did spend a little time sewing this evening. I made one more of my new Ruffled Feathers blocks because I wanted to see how multiple blocks looked.

I’m really liking how the purple in this has something to say! I might have to call this my purple quilt!

I did us my hole punch to punch out the corners on my paper templates and it worked really well. I’ve ordered some new punches because the one I have it really almost impossible to get in the right location. But I really like how this made it so much easier to remove the paper template.

I’m really loving these fabrics, and I’m really happy that I decided to do this with the solid backgrounds. Can’t wait to see this as more blocks are done.

Before I left my sewing room for the evening, I started sewing the strip sets for the next 8 Ice Storm quilt blocks. I’ll finish up these strip sets tomorrow night.

I’m hoping to take Tuesday and most of the day Wednesday off. I need a bit of a break and the weather is so nice. I’m hoping to get to the coast on Tuesday. The dogs and I need some time on the beach! It starts raining again later this week.

Saturday Out and About and the First Ruffled Feathers Block

I met a friend of mine down near Mollala, OR, today to work our dogs on another friend’s sheep. It was a dry day, but cloudy most of the time. We did see the sun peek through the trees at one point in time.

After doing some training on sheep and having some soup I made for lunch we took the dogs for a hike on the BLM land next to my friend’s property.

It’s so nice to have dogs that get along! These good dogs ran and ran up and down the trail and were absolutely wonderful with each other the entire time.

On the way down to Mollala I drove past a lot of downed trees. That area got hit pretty hard with the recent ice storms. A different friend of mine who lives out there just got power back at her house on Thursday. That means she was without power for almost two weeks!

But where we hiked today only had a few limbs down, and mostly boughs on the trail. But man… it was so pretty when the sun came out!

I didn’t get home until about 5:00. So I took the dogs out for another walk and then just sort of hung out the rest of the evening until after 10 pm.

Then I decided to get into my sewing room and make the first block for my second Ruffled Feathers quilt because I was anxious to see how the fabrics all worked together and how the solid background fabric looked with the geese. I’m pretty happy with how this looks!

It’s much less chaotic than my first Ruffled Feathers quilt. I think the solid white background calms it all down. Plus, you can see all that work in making the geese.

And speaking of geese… I really dislike making flying geese. So when I decided to make this quilt the first time I made my own paper piecing template for the geese. And it worked really well.

I saw a post somewhere recently where a quilter used a paper punch to punch out the corners of her paper piecing template to make the paper easier to remove. I found my paper punch and gave it a try, but I have a punch that doesn’t allow you to actually SEE where you’re punching the hole. So I ordered an old fashioned punch and will try this once that arrives.

Before I started sewing tonight I took some time and basically shuffled all of my fabric pieces so when I sit down to sew I can just grab fabrics off the top of the stack and put them together.

You can purchase the Ruffled Feathers pattern here.

So Many Ideas Coming at Me

Since I started my Ice Storm quilt I’ve been fascinated with the idea of low value quilts. I have so many ideas of how to combine low value fabrics with bright fabrics — batiks and KFC fabrics! My mind is kind of racing!

I’ve been buying a good number of black and white fabrics in the last week or so. The first two relatively small packages arrived yesterday.

Isn’t that a fun bunch of fabrics!!! I really couldn’t tell you how many more pieces I have coming. I do know that it’s coming from three different stores. I’m guessing there must be in the neighborhood of 30 more half yard cuts on their way to me. It will be really fun to see them all in one stack!

I’m thinking my first quilt using all these new fabrics will be another trip quilt. I have several ideas rattling around my brain. I’m going to give it some thought and maybe do some drawings or coloring sheets to see if I can decide what direction to go. I do know that I want to do something bright but with a more limited color palette.

I pulled a packet of 20 batiks that I had put aside for a quilt and arranged them with some of these black and whites. It’s a pretty fun look! Not sure how I’ll combine these, but I really like the effect!

So in the mean time, I’ve been wanting to start something new as I finish up my Ice Storm blocks. So tonight I pulled out the fabrics I’ve set aside for another Ruffled Feathers Quilt. You can see my first one here.

These Kaffe Fassette Collective fabrics will be combined with a bright off white Kona cotton that will be the background on the geese sections.

I will use the paper piecing template I made to sew my flying geese units.

Before I started cutting fabric I calculated how many of each piece I needed from each cut of fabric. And I kept track of what I had cut out of each fabric.

When I’m done cutting I should have pretty close the the exact number of pieces I need for this quilt top, with a few extra for safety.

I got half of the KFC fabrics cut tonight before I got tired and worried that I would mess it up.

I cut the background pieces last night.

That’s a big old stack of off white triangles! I need 320 of them for this quilt.