Bags everywhere

Next month, my sewing group is going on a retreat, and one member has generously offered to run a workshop during the retreat to make Mondo bags.

Initially, I thought I would not make a bag as I needed to focus on other UFOs. Then, I saw how cute some other friends’ fabric choices were. I started to wonder which of my scraps I could use up if I were to make my own bag. The next thing I knew, I had all the leftover French General fabrics from my Dear Jane quilt on my cutting table and I was hacking into them with a rotary cutter.

Plan to stay on track and finish UFOs – epic fail.

Inability to resist the temptation of starting a shiny new project – guilty as charged!

Because I had not planned to make a bag on the retreat, I did not order the kit as everyone else did (the group placed a big order!), and I had to improvise some things, like the handle and key loop measurements. I borrowed the instructions from Donna, who does all my long-arm quilting. Donna made her Mondo bags long ago, and it was her pretty fabric choices that finally made me decide I wanted one too. I knew I could have made something similar without the instructions, but the instructions help if you plan to add a pocket as I did on the large bag. The kit contains the gridded interfacing, which is a technique worth trying. I had to improvise and so used ordinary fusible interfacing, which I fused to the back of the pieced panel after I had randomly sewn all the squares together. Some sort of interfacing is a must to stop all that bias grain direction from distorting over time.

Large Mondo bag made with French General fabrics

I used my Dear Jane backing fabric leftovers to line the bag, so it really does match the unfinished quilt.

Large Mondo bag made with French General fabrics

For the key loop, I had the perfect little red carabiner in my stash, something my husband brought home from a conference and gave to me because it was red.

Large Mondo bag made with French General fabrics

This bag is huge. I think I can fit a whole quilt in it. I will have to try.

After cutting into my French General scraps, I started looking for something else to use to make the smaller, midi Mondo, which I think is a perfect size for a knitting bag. A charm pack of Tanya Whelan’s Petal fabrics was just the trick. I cut the charm pack into quarters, and off I went, using the same technique as for the larger bag. Once again, I lamented the fact that 5-inch charm packs are actually no bigger than 4¾ inches square, but in a bag like this it does not matter if all the squares – and the bag – are a fraction smaller than they ought to be. I can see how using the proper kit and the gridded interfacing would be a great help if you had inaccurately cut squares; the grid would help you to keep to scale.

Midi Mondo bag made with Tanya Whelan fabrics

I used a Tanya Whelan stripe from a different collection for the lining, and leftover scraps from the backing of one of my shirt quilts for the handles.

Midi Mondo bag made with Tanya Whelan fabrics

It is very girly and floral, but that works fine for me.

Midi Mondo bag made with Tanya Whelan fabrics

The midi version is my favourite size. I see this becoming a knitting bag.

Midi Mondo bag made with Tanya Whelan fabrics

I can never have too many florals – large and small.

I was still on a roll, so I found a handful of leftover charm squares from Fig Tree & Co’s Whimsy range and cut them into quarters to make these drawstring bags.

Drawstring bag made with charm pack leftovers

The only differences between two are the random placement of the squares and the ribbon colour.

That is enough small squares for one week, I think!

Everything came from my stash, except for the fusible fleece that is used in the Mondo bags’ lining and the two lengths of ribbon for the drawstring bags.

I have a reason for finishing my Mondo bags ahead of the retreat (apart from crazy eagerness): I plan not to take my sewing machine on retreat. I want to take only hand sewing this time. I might not be making the bags with everyone else on the retreat, but at least I have bags to pack my sewing supplies in. My Dear Jane quilt can travel in its matching bag and perhaps I will finally make a start on hand quilting the thing. Has anyone noticed how quiet I have been on that front?

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28 thoughts on “Bags everywhere

  1. Well, if you are not taking your sewing machine, the hand quilting will HAVE to be started! And who knows? Once you get started, you may find you enjoy it! Whatever you do, have a great time!

  2. Hi Carla, love the bag. I live in the UK is there any way I could maybe pay and download the placement of the squares. I know with a bit of brain I may be able to do it but not sure. Thank you Kate

    • Kathleen, you should contact the bag’s pattern maker, Quiltsmart (links to their website are in my post) and ask them. Perhaps they have a pdf version of the instructions that you can buy and download, thereby avoiding postage costs. The printed instructions can be bought separately and would only be a letter rate to post. Alternatively, they can tell you who stocks the instructions and kits in the UK. You do not get some of the measurements or the gridded interfacing with just the instructions, but I have proven it can be made without these.

      They will post anywhere, I think. I am in Australia, and my group was able to order all their kits (it might have been as many as 17!) from the USA.

      Sorry I cannot be more help. I am conscious of the work that goes into writing patterns and will try to respect the writers’ copyright.

  3. Since the no new projects rule was self-imposed, I can’t see any problem. And you used up scraps, and it’s useful, and pretty, and it means you’ll have to start hand quilting. I call that an all-round win! That pale pink and floral one reminds me of a halter-neck top with a rose corsage – it’s gorgeous.

    • I am conscious of the fact that I could have started hand quilting when I was making these bags, but at least I have set a date!

      I would wear a top in those florals, but not a halter style. They do nothing for my scrawny little chest. 🙂

      • And they make my already broad shoulders look at home on a rugby pitch… A retreat is the perfect time to start the hand quilting. No distractions, no excuses. You’re there to quilt!

  4. Wonderful effort……you have the bag and the UFO time on retreat. It’s always a great feeling to use up some of your stash without buying new….leaves room for more new, shiny purchases. Enjoy your retreat, mine is next weekend.

  5. I thought the fact that you were using your Dear Jane scraps meant that it was finished!! not so. Maybe at retreat if you do a couple of all nighters? I found at our retreat my eyes started going funny from so much sewing. I’m used to enforced breaks for cooking, laundry, taxi service etc, and all that close hand sewing resulted in me developing a muscle twitch in my eye lid. Occupational hazard. Where are Health and Safety when you need them? At least you’ll arrive at retreat in style now.

    • I hid its incomplete state and my guilt well, didn’t I, Wendy! I have been focusing on wedding presents and bee blocks this year and have overlooked this.

      I cannot do late nights, let alone all nighters! I will take some knitting or something else in case my untrained fingers feel the callouses and pain of hand quilting too much and I need a break.

  6. Pingback: UFOs on retreat | Granny Maud's Girl

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