Tag-Along: Day 3 of 7

You’re back!  Are you ready to get to work?  Time to make progress on our Tag-Along tote for the Stitched In Color Shelburne Falls Contest.

We Need Handles

A decked-out tote bag needs handles and this one is no exception.  There are two handles, each measuring 7″ x 14.” The fabric I chose for my handles is the Circle Square Lilac. Fused to the wrong side (ws) is a light-weight fusible interfacing cut the same size as the fabric.

The interfacing, just as with the Velcro, came from my stash. The interfacing was found tucked inside a box. When I removed it from storage it had obvious folds. Jokingly I thought how nice it would be to press out the creases. Of course that would be a terrible idea. What a disaster that would be. Without any challenges, I fused the interfacing onto the Circle Square Lilac.


What Did That Say?

Have you ever read something over and over again yet still not understand what it says?  I have, multiple times.  The next steps, in creating the handles, were a little confusing. The printed words say, “With wrong sides together (wst) fold long edges of handle rectangle to meet in the center. Press. Fold in half and press. Fold in half again and top stitch . . .” They lost me after the first “press.” Here’s how I interpreted the instructions the first time:

1. I placed my first piece of fabric on my pressing surface (rsd).

2. Next I folded each long edge in toward the center line (wst) and pressed.

3. Next I folded the strip in half by meeting up the two long edges and pressing.

4. Again I folded it in half by meeting up the two long edges and pressing.

This method seemed a bit odd. On one edge of the handle was a nice fold. On the other there were multiple folds. I wasn’t at all happy with the outcome. Some how it just didn’t seem right. Either I totally misread the directions or there just had to be a much better way. It didn’t really matter who had the issue. I just knew I had to change it.

Let’s Do That Again

I read and re-read the instructions again. After digesting them I decided to do things a bit different. Here’s how I approached it the second time:

1. With my fabric flat on my pressing surface, (rsd), I folded one long edge in toward the center and pressed.


Then I did the same thing to the other long edge.

2. Starting on the same side I used in step one above, I folded that edge in toward the center again and pressed. I repeated the same with the other long edge.


3. Finally, I folded the first long edge over to meet the second long edge and pressed.

The end result gave me a closed fold on one edge and two folded edges on the other one. On top of that it looked much neater and was much easier to make than my first attempt. I repeated the same three steps with the second handle. With both handles neatly folded and pressed I top stitched them as directed.


After completing the construction of the handles there was one last step to do.  All that was left was their installation onto the rail fence sandwich. If I had followed the instructions as printed, which I seldom do, I was told to pin the handles to the designated edge. I didn’t really like the idea of using the pins so I basted them in place.


Here’s a photo of my Modified Tag-Along as it appears now.

My Tag-Along tote has come a long way since Day 1.  Left on our list of things to do are pockets, tab closures, binding and the very exciting reveal. It’s been so fun watching the transformation.  With only three days left I can’t wait until the reveal.  No sense getting ahead of ourselves.  Let’s take one day at a time.

That’s all for today! See you next time.  Oh, if you are interested in reading the previous posts for this project you may find links to them here:

Day 1 of 7

Day 2 of 7

Tag-Along: Day 2 of 7

Welcome to Day 2 in my journey through the construction of my Shelburne Falls Contest Entry.  I’m so glad you made it back!

Let’s Get Started

So here we are at the threshold of my new adventure. Let’s not waste any more time. These are the options I chose for my Tag-Along hybrid.

Pattern Supply List:

  • (24) 5″ charm squares (I am using Shelburne Falls Charm Pack)
  • 3/4 yard main fabric (I chose the Circle Square Lilac)
  • (1) fat 1/4 accent fabric (I selected Dress Floral Lilac)
  • 3/8 yard lining fabric (I’m using Deco Fans Lilac)
  • (1) fat 1/4 binding fabric (I selected Crest Blue)
  • 14″ x 24″ fusible craft-tex
  • 1/2 yard of light fusible interfacing
  • 9″ x 12 1/2″ vinyl (I used fabric instead)
  • (1) 14″ zipper (I didn’t use this)
  • 3″ of Velcro
  • (2) 1″ buttons (I used three)

Before cutting anything I took time to starch and carefully press my fabrics.


Next I sorted through the charm pack deciding which pieces I would use and which ones I would not. After organizing them into colors it dawned on me I would have to use all (30) pieces. The pattern only calls for (24) but since I am making my bag larger I will need all (30) charm squares. No need to eliminate any squares. On to cutting.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

How does that famous saying go? “Measure twice, cut once.” Or was it, “Measure once, cut twice?” I get confused? Perhaps that’s why I can be prone to making mistakes. Cutting the charm squares makes me a little nervous. The jagged edges make cutting the squares a bit challenging. When measuring, the outer most edge of the points is where you place your ruler. Accurately seeing the points through the ruler is where I struggle.


For this project I needed (90) 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ strips.


After successfully cutting all (90) I organized them first by color family and then in groupings of three. Three strips are sewn together to make each rail fence block.

Let’s Go To The Sewing Machine

Once my strips were sorted I began sewing them together. I chain pieced the first two strips of each block, snipped the blocks apart, then carefully pressed open their seams. The third strip was then added to each of my rail fence blocks.  Adding the third strip meant my (30) rail fence blocks were now assembled. All I had left to do was press open their seams.


I laid my blocks out on a cloth I use for starching. I’ll have to tell you the story about that cloth some time.


I lightly sprayed the front side of each block with Best Press then left them to rest for a short time. Next I took each one to my ironing board placing them with the right side down. Each seam was carefully pressed open. I prefer to press from the wrong side because I have better control of my seam directions. I also prefer pressing the seams open rather than to the left or to the right. When I do it that way I think I get a much flatter seam. Here’s a photo of my blocks on the starching cloth.

Move This One There

With the blocks all pressed and ready to go came the never-ending process of arranging them. Each grouping needed 15 blocks. I divided the pile of rail fence blocks into smaller piles. Next I moved and moved and moved them around until I was satisfied with the outcome. Here’s one set.


Now it was back to the sewing machine. I stitched the rail fence blocks into segments of three, starched and then pressed them. I now had five rows of three blocks each. Those five rows were attached together to form one side of the Tag-Along tote. I repeated the same steps with the other fifteen rail fence blocks, then starched and pressed them as well. Our rail fence blocks are now finished.

Shall We Meet In The Middle?

Time to begin constructing the Tag-Along modified tote. Next up in the directions is the attachment of a 4 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ (I cut mine 15 1/2″) outside bottom strip cut from my Circle Square Lilac fabric. I pinned the strip to one of the rail fence blocks, right sides together (rst), matching together the 12 1/2″ (mine was 15 1/2″) edges.


A 1/4″ seam was sewn. The same steps were repeated with the other rail fence blocks. Once I finished stitching the second rail fence and the outside bottom strip together I pressed the seam.


Looking good!

Craft Who?

Not all of the supplies needed for my Tag-Along were available at Fabricworm. Some items had to be purchased locally. The Tag-Along pattern calls for craft-tex. Craft-tex is something I was not at all familiar with. Before going to my local discount fabric store I searched on the internet for craft-tex.  Unfortunately I came up empty-handed. Their answers to my question had nothing to do with my desired outcome.

While shopping at the discount fabric retailer I asked for assistance in locating craft-tex. The exceptionally helpful lady told me to search for double-sided fusible interfacing. Once I knew that was what I needed my search became much easier. I ended up with Peltex 72F Double-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.

Oh, Oh!

My Tag-Along tote is now ready for the fusible stabilizer. Sandwiched together will be the just-finished rail fence blocks, our double-sided fusible stabilizer and a 12 1/2″ (I used 15 1/2″) x 22 1/2″ piece of the Deco Fans Lilac for the lining. Before sandwiching all three layers together the fabric for the lining needed to be cut. Here comes screw-up # 1. Remember earlier how we discussed the mantra of, “Measure twice, cut once?” Well I guess I kind of forgot that mantra when I cut the fabric for the lining. I followed the pattern instructions exactly. Normally that would have been super. However, remember I decided to modify this pattern. When I cut the fabric for the lining I forgot to use my modified measurements. Oops! I just created myself a problem.

I paused for a while to ponder my solution. The fabric I had leftover was not long enough to accommodate the measurement of 22 1/2″ so somehow I had to make up for the shortfall. My fabric was purchased on the internet, which meant I couldn’t just drive to the store to secure another piece. Besides I had fabric left, just not enough to cut a 22 1/2″ piece. I did, however, have enough to piece one together. I’m very conservative when I cut fabric. I always try to cut my pattern pieces in a way that leaves as much useable fabric as possible. That way when I screw up, which I undoubtedly will, I have a greater chance of being able to fix my mistake. Also, the larger left over pieces make wonderful specimens for future projects.


The only way I knew how to fix my issue was to piece the lining together. Since that was my only option I followed through and created a new lining.


If you look closely you will see the seams where I pieced together the segments. Notice how the section in the middle’s pattern runs in a different direction. I figure this added section is in the middle of the Tag-Along modified version anyway. I doubt it will be that noticeable and truthfully I really don’t care. On to the next step.

Make Mine A Fabric Sandwich!

Per the pattern instructions it’s now time to fuse together the rail fence segment, the double-sided fusible stabilizer and my improvised Deco Fans Lilac lining. I’ve never had experience with this stabilizer so this will be a learning experience.

The instructions were quite simple. I sandwiched together the rail fence blocks, the double-sided fusible stabilizer and the lining. Next I pinned and lightly pressed together all three layers. Then I removed the pins and, using a damp pressing cloth (I used a white dish towel), securely fused both sides of the sandwich. When I was finished my fabric layers were slightly damp. I continued ironing the fabric until it felt dry to the touch. In no time I successfully completed the prescribed steps.

Hooks & Loops

The only thing left to do to the fabric sandwich was attach a small strip of Velcro. Velcro is something I typically have on hand so I didn’t bother adding it to my shopping list. I dug through my stash and located three options. The first was way too wide for this application. The second option was black. Given the colors incorporated in my fabrics I didn’t think that was a suitable option either. The final candidate was white and measured 5/8″ wide. This was the one I chose. I cut the required piece and machine stitched it in place. After clipping my threads and looking back at the package I was amused to find a copyright date of 1991. I guess that Velcro has been around for a while. Next up, the handles.

That’s Enough For Now

I think I have worked you hard enough for today so let’s stop here.  Hopefully I haven’t bored you to death.  If you are still with me then make sure to stay tuned for Day 3.  Until then have a wonderful day!

Tag-Along: Day 1 of 7

I’m Participating in a Contest

I’m participating in Stitched in Color’s Shelburne Falls Contest. If you remember on March 3rd I teased you with a photo of fabric.


Then I told you if you wanted more information you needed to stay connected. Well here’s my first installment. The contest rules are really quite simple

* * * * *

  1. Make whatever you want
  2. Use one or more fabrics in the Shelburne Falls collection.

* * * * *

That’s it. Easy breezy right? Well, that is unless you are someone who just has to meddle with the pattern. Guess who that someone is? You guessed it, ME! I selected the Tag-Along pattern by This & That. I purchased the pattern at Life’s A Stitch and the fabric came from Fabricworm. The pattern itself is just fine. It’s the dimensions I’m going to mess around with.

iPad Tote

It’s been my desire to locate a pattern to construct a tote suitable to carry my iPad and keyboard. I am already protecting my iPad with a purchased case so that’s not an issue. I simply want something, besides my purse, that has handles and a little extra padding, to carry my iPad and accessories in.

The internet is the first place I searched for my iPad/keyboard tote. I reviewed page after page of available options but found none that met my specifications. Next I thought about inventing my own and creating a tutorial out of the process. I took multiple measurements, drew numerous pictures and pondered the assembly process for hours. A sample mock-up was even created. You can see from the photos below that I had a


separate pocket for the keyboard


as well as my iPad.


I even included a little slot for storing my stylus.

Planned but not added were handles, another pocket for miscellaneous small items as well as a tab to keep the whole conglomerate securely closed. I never got around to adding those additional features because, this was, after all just a mock-up.

The assembly process was really very simple. My goal was for it to be easy. If I was going to offer it to my readers I didn’t want a laborious set of instructions. Cutting, stitching and pressing took less than an hour. What resulted from my first attempt at building an iPad/keyboard tote wasn’t too bad.


It obviously needed to be slightly larger because the room above the electronics was not at all adequate.

Once I established that further refinements were in order I decided to pause and ponder my options. I could continue refining my own pattern or switch over to assembling the project for the Shelburne Falls contest. The most logical direction was to switch gears and head in the direction of the Shelburne Falls contest.


Once I made the choice to set aside the exploration of my own pattern I dug out the items I had purchased for the contest. The Tag-Along tote by This & That is a cute little bag.


The pattern utilizes charm squares as well as several other fabric pieces. Combined together they add spark to the over-all appearance. As I gathered my supplies my mind began racing. What if I modified this pattern to meet my needs? I could change a few measurements and perhaps create a hybrid version. I had more than enough fabric to make the tote larger so why not. Then I thought, there I go again making changes to a pattern. Oh, well. Life’s what you make of it. Let’s hope I don’t mess this up.

That’s The Plan

So now you know my plan.  I hope you are as excited as I am and will return for part two in my Tag-Along journey.  As always thank so much for sharing this time with me.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

My Heart Is Racing!

They Arrived!

For those that are regular followers of my blog you know that I spent most of the past four months concentrating on the Hurricane Sandy Quilt project. Last week I excitedly announced the completion of the fourth and final quilt on my roster. According to tracking records quilt’s # 4 and # 3 arrived at their New Jersey destination last Thursday.

Time to Shift Focus

My main focus for four months has been those four quilts. Very little else was thought of, scheduled or even entertained until that major hurdle had been overcome. As soon as I walked out of our local UPS store I instantly, and I mean instantly set my mind in motion. So many of the projects on my To Do List were screaming for my attention. The hard part would be deciding which ones would take priority.

Tote Bags Galore

Now being an overly organized nut, one would think I have my To Do List all prioritized. I suppose in a way I might. On the other hand I must have some spontaneity. As much as I love using my long arm quilter my imagination was drawn in the direction of the many tote bags patiently awaiting their turn. Some of the patterns I have had for several years. One of them I helped my middle daughter make when she was here a year ago. I jealously watched as her bag grew closer and closer to completion. Oh how I wanted to make one for myself.

The Lucky Ones Chosen Are

The more I thought about my endless possibilities the more I just knew it was time to make something fun. On my present To Do List is the Miranda Day Bag by Lazy Girl Designs, The Encore Purse Insert  by Studio Kat Designs and the Messenger Bag presented by From the Blue Chair. Pictured below are the fabric selections I have chosen for my activities:


Miranda Day Bag


The Encore Purse Insert


The Messenger Bag

Also making the top ten charts is my super secret project for the Stitched In Color challenge. I gave you a sneak peek of that last week.


Shelburne Falls Contest

I almost have that tote completed.

Letting Off Steam

Well I think that’s enough excitement for one day. I believe I let out just enough steam to keep myself from exploding. I have to hurry up and get this post published so that I can get my eyes back on my newly selected projects.

I’m Linking Up

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced. Make sure you join the excitement brewing over there. Thanks so much for spending time with me. You are what makes this all worth while. Have a wonderful day!


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

It’s Here!

My Fabric Has Arrived!

Not sure what I am talking about?  All I will say is Shelburne Falls and Stitched in Color.  If you want more information you will just have to wait.