Petrillo Bag #3: Hacks

I spent some days on the weekend finishing the Petrillo Bag #3 (Buy the pattern from Sew Sweetness). I have a few threads to weave in before I can say DONE, but it is close.

In this bag, I made a few more changes to the original pattern.

Elastic sides
Elastic sides

First, I made the bag larger again, but instead of using clips like last time, I bought some wide elastic and used that. The reason I need to use something rather than let the bag be free is because I want the front closure to still work. It is a magnetic closure and probably wouldn’t be strong enough to keep the bag closed if the shape weren’t similar to the original bag. I want it bigger to be able to get stuff out easier (this bag is GREAT for conferences) and be able to stuff a sweater in for cold conference rooms.

I didn’t have enough of the sew-in magnetic closures that Sara of Sew Sweetness recommends, so I bought one more at Joann. Big mistake. Use the ones that Sara recommends; they are MUCH better.

Saggy zipper pocket from Petrillo Bag #2
Saggy zipper pocket from Petrillo Bag #2

Next, I needed a way for the interior zipper pocket to be stabilized. I use the zipper pocket a lot and it was completely saggy. You can see the outside folded over to the inside from the weight. One solution was to lessen the amount of stuff in the pocket.I do like my stuff so I sewed close to the edge on the top of the pocket as one possible solution to keep the pocket stable.

Stabilize zipper pocket
Stabilize zipper pocket

However, I thought of a solution that would allow me to keep the same amount of stuff in the pocket and not be saggy. I thought of this at the last minute when the bag was almost completely together, so my options for making it super nice were limited. I sewed tabs on to the ends of the zipper. They were sticking out just enough to allow me to do so, then I sewed the tabs into the side seam.

Stabilize zipper pocket - detail
Stabilize zipper pocket – detail

I didn’t finish the tabs, but I figured it wouldn’t matter much since the stablizers were on the inside. I would finish the edges and make real zipper tabs if I were making the bag again.

Petrillo Bag Slip Pocket
Petrillo Bag Slip Pocket

In a further effort to stabilize the interior zipper pocket, I also added a slip pocket to the outside of the padded pocket. I got this idea from making the Cargo Duffle. I hope to put the pens in this pocket instead of in the zipper pocket, which should help the stabilization. I divided the slip pocket into two sections using my phone as a guide for size.

The slip pocket isn’t in exactly the right place. I should have put it down a little further, because in its current location, it interferes with the padded pocket flap. Thinking about this made me realize that I probably don’t need a flap over the padded pocket.

I think I will have to make this bag again with further refined hacks.

Yes, Please. I’ll Take One

Janome Labor Day Sale
Janome Labor Day Sale

As usual, Janome sent me an ad for their Labor Day Sale.

Janome Labor Day Sale
Janome Labor Day Sale

I don’t know that this is the machine that I actually want, because I haven’t done any real shopping, but if someone sent me one, I wouldn’t say no.

One of these days they won’t have a sale and that will be the time I decide it is time to buy a new machine.

Napkins Project Continues

More Thanksgiving Napkins
More Thanksgiving Napkins

The good thing about machine embroidery is that it can happen while the maker is piecing since the machine works independently. Still, SIL is making crazy good progress. After a few napkins last week, she gave me a bunch this week.

Pumpkin motif for napkins
Pumpkin motif for napkins

This group of motifs is fun. The pie and the corn, along with the pumpkin, which you saw last week, are two of my favorites. I took a close up of the pumpkin, so you could see what a nice design it is.

College Pillowcases


We sent the YM off on Tuesday for a brief trip to visit his freshman year roommate before he heads back to college.

Already! Can you believe it? The four months flew by.

I made pillowcases for his friends.

College Pillowcases
College Pillowcases

I saw some Pokemon fabric the last time I went to the hairdresser and described it to the YM . He wasn’t interested but he must have described the fabric (the skills of the quiltmaker’s young) to his sophomore year roommate who wanted a pillowcase from it. I bought some and made it. In the course of rummaging for cuff fabric, I found some chocolate fabric I had designated for a pillowcase and sewed that one up as well. The chocolate pillowcase went to the girl of the trio. I haven’t heard if they received them, but I am sure they did.

Quilt and Cleft Palate

As I said, we were in Southern California all weekend. One of the things we did was to give a check to St. John’s Hospital for their Craniofacial Anomalies/Cleft Palate program. It is a comprehensive program that includes pediatricians, dentists, social workers, plastic surgeons, ENTs and a score of other medical professionals who help get kids out of the land of being branded a Frankenstein and into a “normal” life.

There is a quilt hanging in the reception/intake area. We spent time in that room before the program started. I had noticed it last year, but didn’t have a chance to take a picture. I had the opportunity to look at it more closely, because the Grand Historian asked me whether it was a quilt, because he saw the applique. His question gave me the opportunity to look at the quilt more carefully, share my knowledge and take a photo. Since I wasn’t able to visit any quilt shops, I was thrilled.

Down East by Terry Waldron
Down East by Terry Waldron

The quilt is called Down East by Terry Waldron. The color is very rich. It is mostly batiks with some velvets. There is quite a bit of embellishment using raw edge applique and yarn. There is piecing as well in the form of log cabin blocks. The quilt is behind plexiglass, thus the glare. You can see a picture of the artist with the quilt, though I don’t see the quilt listed on her website.

Down East by Terry Waldron, detail
Down East by Terry Waldron, detail

There was one bit of quilting that I liked very much. I thought it was a clever way to highlight a motif that was not a block.



At this event, the Grand President, my DH, gave St. John’s a check for $55,000. Less that 1/2 of 1% of your donation goes to administrative costs. This is one of the best events for me, because each dollar of that $55,000 came from $5 raffle tickets, $10 BBQ tickets and $2 fines for cell phone use during meetings. There were no millionaires who chipped in $20,000. All the money came from members and their families. $55,000 is a lot of $2, $5, and $10. All of the trustees donate their time, including travel costs. Feel free to donate to the NSGW Charitable Foundation to support kids with craniofacial anomalies and their families.

Under the Sea Update

I am making some progress on Under the Sea. It is a shock, because this piece has been on my list and a UFO for YEARS. I really never thought I would finish it and here I am.

Under the Sea - Late August 2016
Under the Sea – Late August 2016

We went to Southern California for the weekend, so no sewing machine and I missed the BAMQG meeting. My DH better know I love him. 😉 I did take Under the Sea and my EPP project to work on. I didn’t do much in general – no sewing, no EPP, no quilt shop visits, but I worked on Under the Sea a little on the way home in the car.

I bought some 12wt Aurifil and have used a little of it along with the Perl Cotton that I have had laying around. It is fun to add layers of texture to this piece. The stitches are adding interest.

Under the Sea (detail) - Late August 2016
Under the Sea (detail) – Late August 2016

I am not sure about the green circles. I like them as a motif. I am not sure I like them around the turquoise dots. I don’t want to disrupt that bubble like effect.

I am hoping that the viewer won’t see them until they get closer. We’ll have to see.

Finally! Petrillo Bag #3

The 3rd Petrillo Bag has been cut out and on my to do list for awhile. Last Sew Day was the day to start it. I worked on the donation and when I finished that, I started working on this bag. I decided that I needed to clear off my To Do list and I also want my first Chubby Charmer back. I have been using it as a storage space for the pieces to this bag.

I really don’t know why I waited. It has gone together fairly easily thus far even though I have had to do some ripping.

Petrillo Bag #3 in process
Petrillo Bag #3 in process

With this bag, you get a lot of bang for your buck quickly. Within a few seams, you get something that looks like a bag.

Is it finished? No, but I am making progress.

I had some trouble with the flap and after ripping a few times, I decided to remake. I am also making a couple of adjustments. I am making the bag larger again, but using elastic this time. I wasn’t careful when I sewed it in and needed to rip it out and sew it more securely.

Mom had a great idea, which I will also do. I have a pen problem. I always have several with me. I have been using the hidden zipper pocket to hold them and everything else, which makes the bag sag. She suggested I put a slip pocket on the padded pocket and put the pens there. Brilliant!

I am still trying to figure out how to stabilize the hidden zipper pocket. That is a bit of a holdup, but not terrible.

Pattern: Petrillo Bag by Sew Sweetness
Fabric: Home Dec, Pristine Poppies by Joel Dewberry; various dots for trim and Art Gallery Red (not sure this is the name of the colorway) solid for some of the pockets and other trim.

More Napkins

Napkins - early August 2016
Napkins – early August 2016

SIL is embroidering napkins for the napkin project at a furious pace. I need to get busy on the tablerunners. September will be here before we know it and October and November will be hard on its heels.

SIL has finished some more napkins.

Two motifs included in this most recent batch came out very well. I really like the tree and I, especially, like the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Napkin
Pumpkin Napkin

I think they are coming out very well and I will be happy to put them on my table at Thanksgiving.

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Finished
Little Red Finished

I am making progress on the dolls I talked about that I was making from a panel.

This doll is Little Red Riding Hood. She doesn’t really look like Red riding Hood to me as I always thought of Red as more of a little girl. This doll looks like an adult to me. What do you think?

I got the stuffing from my youngest SIL who happened to have some laying around. I was pleased that she was willing to offload it on me.

Red Riding Hood Back
Red Riding Hood Back

I haven’t stuffed very many toys — or anything, really. I worked really hard to make the doll stiff and full feeling. Not sure if it is too full.

The legs and arms are really skinny and I hope they are sturdy enough.

I finished the dog (probably really The Wolf), the quilt and the cape. I am now working on the skirt. I finished it and then I decided it didn’t fit well and I took it part to remake.

I also started the mermaid, which came on another panel. Mom is going to put elastic on the tail for me.

Creative Spark: Chapter 3

The third chapter in Carrie Bloomston’s book is called Take a Class, thus the third spark is about getting stimulation from an external source. Specifically, she talks about taking a class. I like taking classes, but I am choosy about the classes I take. Just because someone can sew doesn’t mean they can teach. Teaching is a skill that takes practice, though, yes, there are a few natural teachers.

Bloomston says “You get an amazing energy and buzz from taking a class. You learn about technique, craft, and process — the bones of a working practice.” I think this one line is so important.

Local adult schools and community colleges are good sources of classes. Your LQS definitely has a listing of classes that changes regularly. I like to take more arty classes, like color theory at community colleges, but LQSs can have those classes as well. Find out what other types of classes are available at local studios. Here in SF there used to be a sewing studio a few blocks from house. I took a fantastic pillowmaking class there and learned some fabulous techniques such as piping.

Of course, there are also online classes, which can be very good. If there are no local classes convenient to you, then definitely take an online class. I like the energy of an actual classroom and think it adds something to the experience. There are also DVDs with which you can learn some interesting techniques. I was inspired by a DVD I received for review by Sarah Ann Smith.

Bloomston provides a list of her favorite classes and then leaves a space for the reader to write down the classes in which s/he is most interested. She doesn’t include Craftsy, but Craftsy is available as well.

My advice:

  • Be choosy
  • Move outside of your medium
  • Do your best
  • Banish the “I can’ts” and the “I don’t knows” and all of those other negative self discussion from your class. There is no place for them when you are learning something new.
  • Buy the best supplies. If you create a masterpiece, it will last (this is something my mom tells her students)

I continue to want to encourage creativity and creative pursuits in YOU via a regular blog post, so this another effort using The Little Spark book. A few weeks ago, I posted about the first chapter of The Little Spark and how to start to use this book to spark your creativity. I also reminded you that I had reviewed the book in November 2015. If you haven’t bought the book, go buy it NOW.

I feel it is important to nurture creative endeavors in myself. If I can encourage creativity in others, I get a huge bonus. It is so easy to get sidetracked by work, housework, kids’ activities, the time suck that is the Internet and take no time for yourself. It is so easy to think that creativity is not important. Creative endeavors nurture your soul. If your soul is healthy all the other things you have to do in your life are easier and come out better.

Like in the Creative Prompt Project, any kind of art is appropriate for this creative exercise. If you are a potter or a cartoonist or a weaver, these reviews and exercises will work for you just as well as for someone who sews, makes quilts, draws or paints.


Various & Sundry 2016 #10

Patterns and Projects

I added a free Craftsy pattern by “Alex Ledgerwood, who created the fabulous “Twiligig” pattern for Scraps Inc., Vol. 2, ” to my Craftsy account. “It’s a paper-pieced pumpkin block, and it’s simply adorable!” (from a Lucky Spools email)

Kristin Esser has just had her book, Sew Illustrated, published by C&T. They kicked off a blog tour earlier this week. The kickoff page has a  idea flip-through of the book, which we all do when we see a book we like, but is hard to do when shopping online. Frances had some info on her podcast about this book.

Other Artists

I saw an article, which turned out to be a video, about folded books sculptures. As you know I am interested in bookmaking and this was a completely different take on using books for art.

Doing Good

SFQG Blocks for Pulse
SFQG Blocks for Pulse

I am so excited about all of the ways quiltmakers and quilt guilds have made a basic design for the Pulse Quilts their own. I saw the blocks SFQG were making when I went to a guild meeting as a visitor. I am tempted to make one for them because I like the pattern so much. I found another great quilt example by Kristen Welsh the other day. Gorgeous! I also love the cheerfulness of the quilt by SonicStitches. There is so much love flowing out via these quilts. You can see more on Instagram by clicking on the #quiltsforpulse hashtag. Everyone is so creative, caring and giving.

Quilt World News

Generation Q magazine has reported that AQS will stop producing books next year. I wonder what will happen with the challenges that result in books. They also let me know that the International Machine Quilters’ Association is folding. This news follows hard on the heels of QNM closing down. The article mentions, of course, the MQG and the success there. There is no panacea, but the old ways don’t work. The existing shows and organizations need to take a page from QuiltCon and make their events about more than quilts and shopping. Yes, those get us in the door, but the passiveness of viewing and shopping don’t make people want to go back. I want to go back to QuiltCon, because of the excitement at the show, the app to answer quick questions, the activities and meeting people I ‘know’ on social media. This is a really good article and I hope you will read it and comment on it.

Well, it seems like dire times for the quiltmaking industry. Perhaps the industry is just right-sizing? Rachel from Stitched in color talks about changes to blogs.

City Quilter in NYC is closing their brick & mortar shop in the fall. I am sorry I never got there. They wrote in a recent email: “After almost 20 years and more than 20,000 students passing through our classrooms, we’re sad to announce the closing of The City Quilter in October.  We have enjoyed getting to know many wonderful people and have had an exhilarating time building up our business from scratch.   But Dale and I feel it is time for a change.  Our focus will be selling our exclusive New York fabric on-line, and, indeed, we intend to expand our offerings.

A huge thank-you to all our loyal customers and friends who have supported our presence in Chelsea at The City Quilter for the last 20 years.  We are so pleased to have helped grow and sustain the quilting community in New York, as well as having brought quilts and quilt-making in NYC to a greater national and international audience.

We are always amazed at the number of real and lasting friendships that have been made in our classroom.  In many ways, The City Quilter always felt like a family and we will truly miss our teachers, employees and customers.

We will be selling our Bernina 550 classroom machines as well as all our floor models of both Bernina and HandiQuilter machines.  Except for the HQ Avanté long arm machine.  That, I’m taking with me.  So there will be some good deals to be had.

Again, many thanks for the experience of a lifetime. We hope to see many of you between now and October.”

It isn’t all bad news. Pokey Bolton will be publishing her first book under the Crafting a Life LLC imprint. It will be a surface design book by Melanie Testa and Carol Soderlund. She is going to be choosy about her titles and hope they focus more on technique and less on patterns.


I have added a few books to the Quilts in Print page.

Cargo Duffle Finished

Cargo Duffle - Finished
Cargo Duffle – Finished


I spent the Sunday after the workshop finishing the Cargo Duffle.

I really, sincerely disliked all the prep work, but was thrilled to see how this bag turned out. it has substance. I was going to give it away, but I am keeping it. I really like the fabrics I chose, even though I chose the green because I thought I would give it away. I love that text fabric.

Cargo Duffle - Finished (interior zipper pocket)
Cargo Duffle – Finished (interior zipper pocket)

I am also thinking of making another one. I know. I know. I am crazy, but I keep thinking about how I would make a second one differently. I want to see if I can do it again better. ALSO, I do have to make a bag for one of the guild officers.

For example, after cutting out the straps, I would just sew them. After cutting out the pockets, I would sew them to the lining. I think it would be less confusing. Yes, I would still have to quilt a bunch of pieces and panels,, but I think it would be easier. It might not have worked when I didn’t know how to make the bag, but now that I have an idea, I think it would work better for me.

Helpful Tutorials

  • How to shorten a zipper – IndieSew
  • How to put the Cargo Duffle lining and exterior together – video by Emily Dennis