Monday, July 17, 2017

The Maker's Tote -- Part One

On my last road trip across central Ohio, I left a few hours early with the thought I'd take some shopping or birding breaks.  The first stop was at Sew To Speak in Worthington, Ohio -- a newish shop filled with modern fabrics, yarn, and cheerful people.  I left with a few pieces of fabric and the Maker's Tote pattern from Anna Graham at Noodlehead

Then at the beginning of July, a group of gals on Instagram announced the Maker's Tote would be their project of the month and it seemed like a call to me to work on one, too -- not just own the pattern.

Once the decision to make something is made, the next job is to pull fabric and a piece of handwoven fabric from Ghana that my anthropologist sister brought me years ago was laying on top of a pile.
It's a sturdy somewhat coarse fabric and will be perfect for the outer fabric.
But do I have anything that will work with it or do I need to shop?
Not to worry -- look at all those teals and golds?
There are a couple new pieces but the majority is from that deep stash I own!!

With so many prints to chose amongst, I decided to piece a small scale tumbling block to show off the "set-in piecing simplified" technique which I teach -- should be an awesome conversation piece!
I worked with 1" finished 60 degree diamonds using G48 from Marti Michell's Set G (it's also in her Grandmother's Flower Garden template set).  My value inspiration is that narrow band second from the lower left corner of the package.
The day I decided to begin was beautiful outside and I wanted to be sitting in the back yard watching the bird feeders.
Solution?  Move the cutting to the patio table!
Can you see the small rotary mat on top of a larger one?
That makes all the cutting and trimming easier since I can twist the little mat in any direction!
That evening, I began to piece the tumbling blocks and decided to keep track of how long it took me. 
You do know I chain piece through these?
That's what my DVD and workshops are all about! 
Piecing tumbling blocks is the best way to learn the process and this stack of 30 blocks took just over 30 minutes.  Now it might take you longer in the beginning but with practice, it's an awesome technique. 
All pressed and ready to layout! 
I'm making a section large enough for the front pocket of the tote.
I'll fill in the sides with extra diamonds. 
I have found it's easier to assemble sections rather than rows -- much less cumbersome and easier to maintain the chain-piecing process.  In the picture below, I've divided all the tumbling block units into groups of three and two for the first step. 
Even though I need to start and stop at "dots" to keep the ends of the seams open, I'm still able to chain-piece. 
I call this the "Y" unit -- the alternate units are upside-down "Y" units. 
All the "Y" units are assembled and laid back out -- working from the layout is the secret to keeping on track in my experience.  There are a few single units across the bottom. 
Now I begin to set the "Y" units together -- the upper pair is already pieced and the lower pair is next. 
It's coming together! 
More progress -- two halves with a few single units to be set into place. 
I worked back and forth between the two halves adding the single tumbling blocks and extra pieces needed along the outside edges to complete my pocket. 
Everything is added and it's time to piece the center seam -- there will be nine individual 1" long seams and so I will throw in pieces from another project as "leaders and enders" at this point to keep the chain going!   I pieced the last of the 4-patches for Long Time Gone as I assembled this piece.
Now it's time to press! 
I have found that waiting to press until the entire piece is assembled makes it easier to keep adjacent seams out of the way of the y-seam I'm stitching.  Once they are pressed, you need to be constantly alert about moving the seams to one side or another. 
The pattern calls for interfacing this pocket and I fused that to the back side of the patchwork for extra reinforcement.  Then I laid the lining right side down on the patchwork and stitched them together leaving a 3" opening along the top edge. 
And it's beautiful!!
Next step is to decide how to position it on the Ghanaian fabric, cut all the pieces for the tote and settle into the studio for a long session!
Maybe two long sessions -- there are zippers!?!

Hope the week is off to a good start for you!

If you are on Instagram, you can check out #makerstoteclub2017 to see what the other sewists are doing with this pattern!


  1. So many itty-bitty pieces! It looks great.

  2. Hi Mary,
    WOWEEEEEEE! This looks fabulous, and extremely hard. I am so impressed with all those little pieces. What nice job you are doing. I look forward to seeing this project come together. ~smile~ Roseanne