Fabric – I use either a half yard, a yard or a fat quarter. If you use a yard you can make 4 smallish bags, two medium bags or one large bag. You can make bags with any size piece of fabric and you can make a specially sized bag for a special gift.
basic sewing kit
For this tutorial, we will use a fat quarter of fabric
1. If your fat quarter does not have a selvedge, create a hem using two folds so there are no raw edges. If your fat quarter has a selvedge, use the selvedge for the top. It won’t unravel.
2. Press hem in place.
3. Sew hem with a decorative stitch, if you have it, a zigzag or straight stitch work fine as well.
Optional: If you have stitch letters on your sewing machine, stitch your name and the year so you know when you made the bag.
4. Fold hemmed bag in half RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER so that half of the hem is underneath itself towards the top and the fold is on the left. You will be making a French seam.
5. Fold a piece of ribbon about 1.5 feet long in half. You can adjust the size of ribbon you use depending on how much ribbon you need to tie.
6. Place the folded ribbon in the open side of the bag about 4″ from the top edge/hem.
7. Pin ribbon in place.
8. Pin rest of the right side and bottom closed.
Use an 1/8″ seam allowance or as small as you can.
9. Starting from the top, sew down the right side, backstitching at the beginning and over the ribbon 2-3 times. You want to backstitch at stress points to keep the bag from ripping apart.
10. Turn at the corner and continue across the bottom, backstitching at the end.
11. Turn the bag inside out, so the right sides are together and the ribbon is out of the way of the seam (It will be inside the bag, but I put mine as straight as possible towards the opposite side of the bag.
12. Press seams, taking care to push them as far out as possible so there is no extra fabric near the seams.
Use a 1/2″ or 5/8″ seam allowance.
13. Starting at the top, sew down the side and across the bottom again to finish the seam.
14. Open bag to make sure the raw edge is hidden inside the seam.
15. Turn bag inside out and press.
Voila! Your bag is really to use!
Please come back and check this tutorial out as I may update it.
For a long time, I had an idea in my mind that I would make two pencil rolls for some friends who worked with me on the Primal Green show. Somehow the pencil rolls never got made. Then, the idea morphed into journals as I worked on the Purple Journal and I got in the groove of making the pages. I ended up just kept making more and more pages until I had enough for the two additional journal.
I used the Circa 1934 mosaic piecing pieces that I had started when I got off track for Julie. The words are appliqued on to the cover using raw edge applique’ (straight stitch down the center of the letters). I started out with a freezer paper template using my own, slightly stylized, handwriting. I am not much of a calligrapher, so I reworked the design of the letters until I was happy.
It took me a long time to cut out the freezer paper templates. The letters were thin and I didn’t want to rip them. It was meditative. I wanted the words to be subtle so I chose another fabric from the group I used in the Stepping Stones quilt.
I might have put the words on the back so that the closure wouldn’t cover them when closed, but I didn’t think of it. That is one reason why I like to work in a series (which sounds so much more arty than “make projects over and over”) – so I can learn and do better the next time.
On the other hand, it kind of looks like a surprise. You get a little peek of something else, then you open the closure and see the words.
The signatures are the same or similar size to the signatures in the Purple Journal. I left a little more space to write and draw on these pages and thought about the Design Series Sandy and I have been working on while I embellished the pages. This project gave me the opportunity to get a little design practice in without starting a new quilt.
These two journals are really twins: cut from the same cloth and made at the same time.
I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the design while I was piecing, because I knew it would be ok. One thing that encouraged me on to add the words was the large expanse of that mustardy dot that ended up on the front. It is really too big of a piece for the front. One large piece of fabric in this mosaic piecing technique does get the piece to the right size faster, but also looks boring. It is, however, a great background for words.
Shocking as it might seem, I stitched on the words AFTER I put the cover together. That means I stitched through the manilla folder which provides the base and gives the journal shape.
The ‘Well’ word was more tricky than the ‘Good’, ‘done’ or ‘Job’ words. I think the fact that they are taller and thinner were part of the issue. My second ‘l’ is leaning a bit more than I intended, but I think it looks ok. If I had thought of it I might have used a light fusible to keep the words in place while I sewed them.
I made a big effort in these two journals to vary the types of paper and put more blank pages in.
I didn’t realize until I started on the signatures for Good Job and Well Done that I was making mini art pieces as pages rather than embellishing pages to add interest and providing space for the recipient to write.
Andrea, at A Work of Heart, where I took the original class, had a lot of great ideas about embellishing pages and adding interesting things to them. She also has a huge supply of all different types of items that could be used for pages, in addition to interesting paper.
I have a smallish bag of paper to use. I found an envelope in it, so I added that to one page so the owner could tuck bits into it. In some cases, I also sewed down only two sides of a piece of paper to embellish so that something could be tucked behind that embellishment as well. I like to tuck things into my journals and imagine that others might, too.
On the left, which is the last part of signature 1, you can see that red strip of paper. That is the kind of embellishing that I was trying to do.
In signature 2, on the left, you can see how my stitching shows up on the first page of the signature, but embellishments are actually on the back of the page.
I also try to position the edges of the pages a bit unevenly. I wanted to highlight the handmade nature of the piece and also draw attention to some of the handmade paper I used.
The inside back cover isn’t terribly interesting. I put a pocket on the Purple Journal, but forgot to do so on these two journals.
I thought the card with printed words saying good-bye in different languages was appropriate to put on the last page. I am sorry that I don’t remember where I got them, because I would like to get a few more. I had a few so I think each of these recent journals got one.
I also like the small images printed in between each of the words.
In this photo, you can also see that I used a zigzag stitch to adhere the paper to the other pieces of paper. I used the same color thread and the same stitch throughout both journals. I played around with the setting a little bit to get a width and length that I liked. I remembered to not make the stitch length too tight or close together (like a satin stitch) otherwise it would have torn the paper.
I think that little bits can be tucked behind the Good-bye card.
The bad thing about this project is that it makes me tempted to save much more paper than I really should save. I really don’t have any place to keep paper and A Work of Heart is too far away to depend on for a ready supply of paper. I guess that is another reason to use a lot of blank paper and embellish it slightly.
Mosaic piecing is not only good for journal covers, but it is a great way to get something done that you don’t have to think about too much while working on another project. Remember leaders and enders? Mostly, when using fabric, I sew like colors together, but in this case, I used a group of fabrics I had used for a quilt, the Circa 1934 + fabrics. You can see that my cover includes a half square triangle piece. I didn’t use it in the quilt, so why not give it additional life?
The Red Journal cover had a lot of super tiny pieces, but not all mosaic quilting needs to use super tiny pieces. Larger pieces become larger faster. In some way, Pieced Backs are a larger version of mosaic piecing. Of course, a cover can be made much more simply from two pieces of fabric. Piecing like I have done is not required.
Things I would like to try for next time (not that I know when next time will be):
use Timtex or similar for the base. I kind of want to see how that works and whether using a more fabric friendly base would be better.
use batting for the cover and see how a softer cover works.
push the limits on how many pages I can fit into a journal this size. One problem is that the sewing machine needle gets dull, so I have to make all the pages at once or keep track of a “for paper use only” needle and keep switching out the needle. It would be great to use the leaders and enders technique for making the pages.
try to put more blank (or nearly blank) pages in the journals. I want people to be able to use these as a journal, so more blanks would be one way to do that.
So, above are the three journals. I am really pleased.