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Foolproof Crazy Quilt Project - Upcycled Wool Bag (Part 1)

I got a lovely surprise for Christmas, a copy of this e-book called "Foolproof Crazy Quilt Projects" by Jennifer Clouston, published by C&T.  It's full of beautiful projects that are small enough not to be daunting, but big enough to be satisfying, with fabulous hand embroidery embellishment.  

I fell in love with the one on the cover, the "Upcycled Wool Bag" and resolved to make it.  I have plenty of wool scraps and this pair of black plastic handles (not as nice as the wooden ones Jennifer uses though).

To be honest my last attempt at using a pattern and instructions from a book rather than a bought pattern did not go so well (see here and here) although I did love my finished bag. However this time there were some big improvements:

  • the template and layout pattern pieces were full sized (last time I had to increase them by 400%)
  • the instructions were clearly laid out
  • the steps were numbered
  • it was well illustrated with diagrams for most steps
  • all the embroidery was shown in 'Stitch Map' photos

Apple Cores

To the Core kit and pattern, a scrap quilt using my Ladies' Album reproduction fabric collection from Moda.  

Having only used squares and rectangles for patchwork so far, I was a bit bemused by this curvy apple core shape, so I went on-line to read up on them.  

Spun Sugar Quilts gave a well illustrated step by step tutorial for stitching them together round those curves and if you have an Accuquilt GO cutter she did a tutorial on using it for cutting the Apple Cores here.

I found a good tip in Flossie Teacakes" English Paper Piecing - Where to Begin", which answered my query on how to treat the corners when fitting them to the card templates; "Katy memorably told me to 'let the dog's ears wag' meaning that I should leave the ears of the fabric unstuck." 

I started by cutting two templates; one for the card and one with the seam allowance for the fabric. I used Template Plastic for them, and used cereal cartons for the card.  Then I dived into my stash of wool skirts (donated by MIL) and started cutting out with my trusty Gingher Scissors.

A few notes on using wool instead of quilt weight cotton;

  • The seam allowance is larger than for a quilt weight cotton, allowing for the looser weave and bulk (and that messing it about can cause fraying!)
  • It is not really suitable for glue though I did try the 'Sewline Fabric Glue'.  I guess it is too 'wooly' for good adhesion as it either didn't stick or came apart when I was trying to sew it.
  • It is not easy to mark, having tried both chalk and pens.  I found it easiest to notch my plastic template and draw a cross.  This helped line up the fabric when fussy cutting the fabrics, and when I transferred it to the card templates I could use the lines to match the centre up with the next piece (see below).
  • It is easier to hide the stitching!  I used whip stitch to join the pieces as it 'feels' right to me.

You can see my lines match up on the card templates


I actually enjoyed sewing the fabric to the card.  After all, this is why I am making it, not only for the finished product but also to enjoy the process.  Once all the scraps were basted to the card templates I spent a happy hour or two arranging and rearranging them until I was happy with the pattern/randomness.

With no further guidance I thought it best to attach them in long rows, then join the rows together.  Then it will be ready to press and add stabilizer ready for the next step.... the Embroidery!

I am excited about trying ribbon embroidery, but before I can start I need to go shopping for all the thread, silk ribbon and button requirements!


Foolproof Crazy Quilting 


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Comment by Karen on January 19, 2016 at 5:06pm
Well it was my first time and it worked well for me. I am really enjoying making this!
Comment by Bonnie Banks on January 15, 2016 at 12:13pm

I haven't ever tried sewing the apple core, or "bowtie", shapes before. I appreciate your photos and explanation of how you have done them. It sure does make sewing these much more inviting now! I may actually try making myself a similar bag. Thanks!

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