Sunday, 7 June 2015

Alex Bag Tutorial

One of my ladies in class has got this rather groovy bag in which she keeps all her Liberty fabric stash. It gets a lot of attention and plenty of us have wanted to make one. Despite our searches we haven't been able to find a pattern for it so I set to work to see if I could come up with a version of my own.

It is a square based bag with a drawstring tie and I can see that my house is going to fill up with them as they are super handy!

It seems a shame to keep it all to myself so here is the pattern & instructions if you want a quick afternoon project to get stuck into.

You will need:
Feature fabric A 12" x 18"
Feature fabric B 12" x 18"
Iron on interfacing for feature fabrics
Lining fabric 24" x 18"
Fabric for loops 5" x 24"
cotton cord 2/5m

From two feature fabrics cut two strips of each at 6" wide x 18" high. Using the 45 degree line on your ruler trim away the top corner from each strip. It is very important that you cut all the fabric with the front face facing upward so the angles are the same on every piece.


Repeat the process with the lining fabric so that you have four pieces of lining fabric.

NOTE: I Ironed an interfacing onto the back of my feature fabrics to give them more body. I used a product called shapewell.

Place one piece of feature fabric A (yellow) face down onto Feature fabric B (blue) as shown. Line up the side and bottom edges. Pin in place & mark 1/4" in from the top. Sew 1/4" along the edge making sure you lock stitch at the start mark & sew all the way to the end.

Now pull up the edge of Yellow A to meet the edge of Blue A and pin together, there should be a slight overhang at the top. Ease the corner join slightly. Pin in place and machine sew making sure you lock or back stitch. Repeat with the remaining two feature pieces.

To join the two assembled feature blocks place right sides together nesting the seams neatly & pin in place. Make sure you start & stop sewing 1/4" in from the end.

Join the remaining edges as before to complete the external face of the bag.


Repeat steps 1 - 4 to make the bag lining. IMPORTANT: In one seam of the lining leave a 3" gap to pull the bag through.

To make the loops for the string cut one strip of fabric 5" wide x 24" long.
Press the entire strip in half wrong sides together along the longest length. Open out the fold & press the outer edges into the centre fold. do this to both edges. Refold the entire strip back along the original centre fold. Press firmly. machine stitch along both edges about 1/8" in. Cut the strip into 8 3" lengths. (note: I photographed only one 3" piece to make it easier to see!)

Turn the external side of the bag so that the feature fabric is on the outside. Fold each of the fabric loops in half & pin to the front face of the bag. I pinned a loop at each seam then half way between each seam. Make sure the loop is positioned with the raw edges lined up with the top edge of the bag. Machine sew each loop in place using a 1/8" seam allowance to hold them in place.

Keeping the lining with the right side facing inward, place the bag inside the lining making sure right sides are together. Push the bottom corners of the bag into the corners of the lining and pin to keep them from moving. Now pin the two bags together all the way around the top being careful not to over pull them as you will be working with bias edges. Use lots of pins! NOTE: the seams of the bag and lining are not meant to line up.
Machine sew the two together all the way around with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Turn the bag through the gap in the lining so that the right sides are facing outward & stuff the lining down into the bag.
Roll the top seam between your fingers to make sure you get the seam nicely pulled to the top & pin in place. Top stitch around the top of the bag using 1/8" seam allowance - this will help to anchor the fabric loops.

Cut two lengths of cotton rope about 1.2m / 47". Thread one length through all 8 loops and then tie the two ends together. Thread the other length of rope through the loops starting at the opposite side.

To finish your Alex bag all that is left to do is hand sew the gap closed in the lining.


x Claire

TIP: If you want to make the bag smaller or bigger the formula is quite simple: the length of each strip is three times the width!

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Every now and then you realise that some things need to be left to the professionals and all your attempts to be brilliant are futile! . . . enter please the professional photographer . . . phew!

Last friday furniture was shifted, carpets lifted and our main living space was turned into a make shift studio to get those illusive fab photos that pick out all the detail in your quilts. 

Anyhoo . . . thought you might like a peek into what went on and I even managed to get a few photos of my everyday quilts x

We used the door off our back shed as a back drop to the quilts - thankfully Steve didn't bat an eye lid when I asked him if he could it remove the door off the shed and bring it inside . . . (and for those of you that know us - no the door is not still in the dining room and yes Steve has put it back on the shed thank you very much!)

Cushion shots needed a little propping up from behind - it was of course Mr Potato Head parading as spiderman that made it perfect!!

I made this earlier this year for a girl friend & I love it - green is my favourite colour! Good job I like her as it was very hard to part with!

Made this years ago, still one of my favourites as it makes me happy . . . just love all those luminous colours. It lives every day on the back of my couch.

I have made two of these this year and have loved the challenge of washing the colours from corner to corner. I am not very good with anything that is repetitive, which of course this is, so the detail in getting the wash correct saved me from the monotony!

I made this for my husband a few years ago while on retreat. The coloured triangles are all Liberty fabrics and the grey is a Kaffe Fasset shot cotton. It was an interesting journey where I learnt about the perils of working with both types of fabrics. I also made the HST triangles using the large square method (two large squares RST, sew around the edges & then cut on the diagonal to yield four HST) . . . not the best method when using the shot cotton as it then puts the bias on the edges of the HST! . . . like I said, it was a learning journey!

. . . it was a long day but this is one of my favourite shots of the day - quirky!

x x Claire

many thanks to the brilliance of Bill Shaylor Photography . . . as usual x x x