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Purse contest entry #3

I must have had food on my mind when I decided to make and enter this bag in the contest. The summers in Yuma, AZ, where I live, get a bit hot. (Understatement.) Keeping frozen foods from starting to thaw on the way home from the store can be a challenge, especially if there is more than one stop. During the winter I still use a quilted bag for the cold foods, but in summer I even double up on the quilted bags. Temperatures over 105F do not promote cold foods.

As with other entries in the contest, I had to use at least some of the inspiration fabric. For the shopping bag I decided to use an image of three ladies and a quilt that they were presumably working on. I started by finding additional fabrics that matched the colors of the quilt on the inspiration fabric. The quilt in the image had blue-green fabric, which I chose as the background for the bag. I decided to treat the image like a photograph. Additional color would be provided by coordinating fabrics cut into squares and triangles.

I cut the pieces for the body of the bag, twice as long as the depth would be. That would allow for a fold at the bottom. A seam at the bottom wouldn't be bad, but it could potentially decrease the strength of the bag. All told, I cut the outer layer, the inner layer, and leftover quilt batt the same size.

I decided that the bag would be reminiscent of a scrapbook with a photo on the page. I decided on the placement of the "photo" image, as well as the other pieces, and fused them to the outer fabric. The "photo corners" would come later. I hadn't quite figured them out yet.

I grew up doing things on the floor due to radiant heating and a handicapped mother. So the next step involved pinning the layers together on the carpeted floor. Starting with the inner fabric, I used large pins to pin the fabric down at the edges. After layering the batt on, I placed the outer fabric on top. Again with the pins at the edges.

Of course I couldn't leave the thing attached to the floor. I used regular sized safety pins to pin the three layers together, starting at the center and working outward. I even placed the pins on the images. My theory is that the more the pins, the less shifting fabric during the sewing process. Now, pinning the layers together can be a bit rough on the fingers unless you take some precautions. I use an item that is sold as a corner-turner to lift the point of the pin into the safety catch – lots less blood that way. Once the layers were together, I unpinned it from the floor and trimmed the layers to be the same size.

Next: quilting the layers. This fabric had a print with diagonal lines in the design. That made it easier to keep the lines "straight" (hmmm, diagonals are straight - strange). I decided that I would not quilt the pretend photos or quilt pieces, so I had to stop and restart each time I came to one. That gave me thread tails at every start and stop. After I had sewn each seam I pulled the top thread to the back of the quilt. Then I knotted the top and bobbin threads in a square knot. Using a hand sewing needle with a larger eye I finally buried the threads in the quilt batt, between the layers of fabric.

The decorative elements needed more attention than I had given them. I zigzagged around the edges of each of the elements with matching thread. Of course I know that I had fused the decorations, and that could easily hold down the items, but I was doing the zigzagging to add an additional decorative element. Once that was done, I cut Peltex (ultra heavy stabilizer) into the shape of a photo corner. Those were fused to black fabric. Since the edges showed a little white, I got out my trusty Sharpie marker and colored the edges of each piece. (Have I ever mentioned that I use nitrile gloves when I play with markers? They're great for keeping the ink off my fingers.) Black thread in a zigzag stitch affixed the corners to the quilt.

Binding the various edges took a few steps. After I had all of the quilting done I sewed the side seams. I just couldn't leave them with fuzzy batting showing on the seams, however. So I bound the seams for a more finished look. Handles came next. I used

polypropylene webbing, as it can stand up to the kind of "abuse" that grocery shopping would dish out. I pinned then sewed the handles, fairly close to the edge. The top seam needed to be finished, so before I finished sewing down the handles I pinned down the hand created bias tape around the top of the bag. I sewed the binding down with two steps. This locked down the handles as well.

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