Friday, January 19, 2018

Construction Notes on the City Zipper Bag

Here are some notes from the making of Anna's bag. This is the City Zipper by Quilts Illustrated. Overall, I loved this pattern and will make it again.
Here I am with my beautiful friend Anna and her new bag.
The first time I make a pattern, I generally try to follow the directions as written. I do take notes as I go, especially if I change things. I've used patterns from Quilts Illustrated before and they are well written and easy to follow. This bag is very similar to their pattern, the Chubby Charmer, which I make often.
Anna put her bag to use immediately. She was able to shove a ton of stuff into her new bag, including her laptop!
My first change was to use one solid piece of fabric for the outside of the bag rather than assemble patchwork. I didn't use fusible fleece, I used cotton batting. I put two layers of batting for the outer bag and one layer of batting inside the lining. I also added a decorative strip of fabric to the top of the bag. I forgot about it when I cut the batting, so there is only one layer of batting in that section, instead of three. That's just an accident, not a design choice.

Don't be afraid of the zipper. This is one of the easiest zipper insertions ever. I used my edge stitch foot (number 5 foot on my Bernina) to do the stitching on the zipper tabs and the straps and I used a zipper foot to insert the zipper. I used a walking foot for the rest of the construction. The zipper in this bag is optional.
The pattern included instructions for the zipper tabs too.
The pattern calls for a 22" or a 24" zipper. I used a 22" zipper, but I will definitely get at least a 24" zipper or longer. Next time I make this pattern I will use a sports zipper because it's heavier and I'm sure this bag will get open and closed often.  I think I'd like a separating zipper as well, but would have to modify the zipper tabs to accommodate it.

The pattern calls for the handles to be 22" long. This would make it a purse strap length. I made the handles 28" long. I wanted them to fit over Anna's shoulder (see her picture at the top). The handles have a neat design feature using four 1" rectangular rings. I actually had some rings in my Stash, so I used them. I only used one layer of batting in the handles so they wouldn't be too thick.

Attaching the handle.
Edge-stitching the handles. I love flat flower head pins. They are sharp and fine. They are especially sharp when you stick them in your finger by accident.
I personalized the bag with my label and I also added a cute tag that I bought in the scrap booking section of Joann Fabrics. My friend Lee Anna taught me to look there for cute items to use in wall quilts and bags.
I purchased my name labels on Etsy several years ago. The seller I purchased them from is no longer listed.
I had an epiphany and I glued the metal tag down so it wouldn't move before I sewed it.
I roughly timed my efforts and it took me about 20 hours to make the bag. Let me know if you found my construction notes post helpful. Hopefully I will remember to re-read it before I make my next City Zipper bag!

Thanks for visiting.

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My MLK Mitzvah Weekend!

Here are some of my projects from the MLK Quilt Weekend.

I made two blocks for the Ventura Quilt Guild project. My Brown Bagger quilt buddies were all eager to help and by the end of the weekend, we had made 20 blocks. They are easy and quick to sew. Please consider making some too. You can find this Thomas Fire Relief 12-inch block design at the Ventura Quilt Guild HERE. 
Here are some of our blocks.
They look good in every type of fabric. The girls had fun playing with the different layouts.
We also made lots and lots of pet pillows that will be donated to our local animal shelter. Sandie, Marion and Kim each brought three completed pillows, plus two more empty pillows to be stuffed. One of Marion's sewing friends had donated a huge bag full of upholstery fabric, so Emma and I cut out seven more dog beds. After my best helper Emma finished stuffing all the pillows that Sandie, Marion and Kim had brought, we drove back to my house where she got to visit the pug petting zoo (Caesar gave her lots and lots of kisses) and we filled my car with the extra bags of stuffing that was taking over my garage. I hadn't expected that we would get to make so many pillows! Thanks also to Joanne S. (Emma's Aunt) and Kim P. who helped me sew pillows to keep up with Emma's rapid stuffing efforts!
When we were done, the back seat of my car was full with 18 new pet pillows.
Emma rides to the rescue with the extra bags of stuffing.
This quilt is for my friend Dianne. I've layered it with a piece of fleece for the back to make it extra cozy. I'm going to quilt it myself with just a simple stitch in the ditch.
My friend Dianne's Mom passed away this summer. Dianne is an avid crafter and her Mom was too. Dianne asked if I would finish a couple of sewing projects for her. The quilt you see above was still in a bag with the extra fabric, the book and some unsewn pieces. She had completed the center of the quilt. The pattern is Eleanor Burns' Triple Irish Chain from Quilt in a Day. This weekend I added the two borders. I managed to find something at Fabric Place that coordinated with the fabrics that Dianne's Mom had purchased back in 1996 (yes, receipt was still in the bag...) for the outer border to make the quilt a little bigger.
Here are the two birthday blocks I made for Marion. She asked for jewel tone batiks so I chose sapphire and emerald.
Marion nicknamed it my Mitzvah Weekend. In case you don't have any Jewish friends, a mitzvah is a good deed or act of charity. While I feel that I didn't accomplish much, Marion thoughtfully pointed out that most of my efforts were for charity and that I should be proud of what I had done. (The back story: last week while I was away on a business trip, my Mom fell and broke her arm in two places as well as cutting her knee so badly that they casted it and put it in an immobilizer. Most of my quilting time was spent talking on the phone to my two brothers, my two sister-in-laws and my Mom... We are all spread out geographically and trying to figure out how to best help my parents. Thankfully, my youngest sister-in-law was able to hop on a plane at a moment's notice to help out my Dad.) We are heading to Florida tomorrow.
I assembled fleeece "office blankies" at our January Sunday meeting and I top-stitched them on Monday evening so I could bring them to work. They are belated holiday gifts for my three coworkers, Dianne, Julie, and Lauren (not pictured) who are always complaining that they are cold! All fabric came from my Stash. Dianne has hearts (this fabric has been with me for so long, I forgot what I was making with it; Julie has leopard print, which I bought specifically last fall to make her a blankie; and Lauren (not pictured) has llamas on a lavender background that I bought at the end of 2016 to make for someone's 6-year old (I made them something else).
My dog walker sent me this adorable photo of Elvis today. She bundled him up warmly to take him for a walk. He has two coats on and three blankets. The fringe from the blanket looks like a fright wig!
Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pugtastic Tuesday: Pug Shoes!

Isn't this little girl pug just the sweetest thing?
Welcome to the second edition of Pugtastic Tuesday. If you missed the introductory post, you can find it here.

Part of the fun of pug ownership is dressing up your pugs. The pug boys have Halloween costumes as well as coats for all types of New England weather. My thought is if I'm cold, they're probably cold too. And who wants to get wet when you walk outside in the rain? The two things that the pug boys balk at wearing are headgear and footwear. Even Romeo, who was the gentlest of souls, wanted to bite my hands off when I tried to put boots on his feet to protect them from road salt in the winter.

This week, I'll share some of my pug shoes. I bought my first pair of pug decorated shoes on eBay about 15 years ago. They were sky high platform wedges and someone had painted pugs on the front of them and along the platform sides. I couldn't actually walk in them, but they were very good looking. Eventually, I donated them to Goodwill.

I purchased the first two pair of sneakers below from websites I found through Facebook. These sneakers are made in China. The quality is decent and I enjoy wearing them although they are not suitable for long distance running or scaling a mountain (fortunately I rarely do either). Be aware that sometimes these manufacturers are unscrupulous and steal artwork. If I recognize the artist I always reach out and ask if they've licensed their designs before buying the shoes.
Don't mess with my blue pug sneakers!
My pink pug slip-ons are quite droll.
I made these sneakers on the Keds' custom website a long time ago (before LarryPug). They feature photos of Romeo and Elvis. Keds no longer offers this service but just search for custom photo sneakers and you'll find several places that offer this service.  Sadly, these are a little too small for me, but I'll never get rid of them.
No shoes for us! Here are the handsome Caesar and LarryPug (in purple) posing together in a rare moment of mutual understanding. I definitely need to get my hardwood floors refinished. After 16 years of pug racing, they have taken a beating! I will never tire of Caesar's little snaggle tooth grin.
This is my little neighbor Damian who came by to visit the pugs. Elvis is his favorite. Damian is 7, so Elvis is more than twice his age!
If want to join me and you have a pet themed collection of your own, I'm happy to link to your blog at the end of my post. Just send me an email at PugMomQuilts (@

Hope your Tuesday was Pugtastic! Thanks for visiting.

Pugs and kisses,

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 Brown Bagger MLK Quilt Weekend

First finish of the year for the talented Kim P.
Here's the back of Kim's quilt so you can see her very fabulous machine quilting. She used lime green thread. Kim is an award-winning quilter who has exhibited her quilts at the Vermont Quilt Festival and in the Hoffman Quilt Challenge.
Another lovely MLK quilt weekend has come to a close. We've all lost track, but we've probably been doing this for at least 20 years. We held a birthday party for Marion, hosted a black and white fabric RLC, and held our overdue holiday fabric swap. We were thrilled that our favorite junior Brown Bagger, Emma, age 11 joined us. Wendy sewed with us this weekend and we were also visited briefly by Cordula who came by to layer a quilt. Sending get well wishes to Pat and Lori who were still sick and couldn't join us.
Marion, at right, completed this lovely lap quilt. She is assisted by Sue in this photo.
Here are some of the blocks that Marion received for her birthday.
Here is Kim G. with the top of her Broken Dishes quilt.
Emma finished this cute reversible fleece blanket for her dog Wags.
Since Emma got a new dog, Ginger, for Christmas she made a new blanket for Wags so he wouldn't feel left out.
Come back tomorrow for Pugtastic Tuesday. I will have more later this week on my own projects from the MLK Weekend plus I will eventually get to writing the review of making Anna's bag.

Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Pugtastic Tuesday: Pug on a Rug

Welcome to the first edition of Pugtastic Tuesday!

When I brought home my darling Romeo almost 16 years ago, I didn't realize that I was unleashing a giant Pandora-size box of pug ephemera that would come to live with me as well. I'll admit to buying some of the pug collectibles that fill our house but a lot of our pug paraphernalia has been gifted to us by well-meaning friends and relatives. Pug socks, pug t-shirts, pug sheets, stuffed pugs, pug stickers, pug mugs, I think that we have it all.

So in honor of my pug boys, I'm starting a weekly series called Pugtastic Tuesday. I'll showcase some of my pug collection and the pug boys will visit. And perhaps even guest author a post or two.
Here are Elvis, at left and Romeo, at right as young pups in April 2003. Elvis was six months old and Romeo was almost a year and a half old. Romeo and Elvis were actual half brothers, having the same father (a stud named Hercules). Romeo passed away last April. He was almost 15 and a half.
If want to join me and you have a pet themed collection of your own, I'm happy to link to your blog at the end of my post. Just send me an email at PugMomQuilts (@
Here are the pug boys today in their new big boy bed that I bought for them after the holidays. LarryPug, left is 8; Elvis, center is 15; and Caesar, at right, is 4.
This week, I'm sharing my pug rugs!
This rug is in our bedroom, next to Mike's side of the bed. I bought it more than ten years ago from a home decorating catalog. It is a very nice quality wool rug and it has held up well.
Here's a close-up. He reminds us of our handsome Romeo.
This is the rug next to my side of the bed. I bought it a few years ago, also from a catalog. It is my favorite rug and the upside down pug makes me smile. He reminds me of our crazy LarryPug.
I now have two of these rugs, since my friend Carol gifted me with one yesterday as a belated holiday gift. It is a smaller size, so I may put it in my bathroom. If you want a rug like this one, I think that Carol may have bought it here. They even offer it in three different sizes.

Here are close-ups of their adorable faces.

Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Monday, January 8, 2018

January Brown Bagger Sunday: Finished Projects

Sunday was our holiday party. The room was filled with yummy goodies. Three crock pots treated us to Mexican chicken fiesta, sausages and peppers, and minestrone soup. We also had delicious salads, baked goods of all kinds and Val's homemade fudge. Normally we hold our Yankee Fat Quarter Swap, but three members were sick, so we postponed it until our next meeting, which conveniently is this upcoming weekend.

We had a few finished projects to show off.

Sandi's double-sided improvisational pieced modern scrap quilt was a masterpiece. I think she should enter it at QuiltCon. No pattern is available. It is Sandi's original design.
As always, Sandi is very modest and says she just made it from some of her solid color scraps. Sandi calls this side the "front" of her quilt.
Here's a close-up of one of the blocks. She did the matchstick quilting using her walking foot. The front of the quilt uses light grey thread.
Sandi calls this the "back" of her quilt, but it's even more gorgeous than the front.
Sandi had fun with the quilting on the back and used up all her different colored bobbins.
Here is Val with her completed Halloween pillow. I'm not sure if she's late for 2017 or early for 2018!
Val's pattern is from Kimberbell Designs. It can be found here. She made the sewing version. A machine embroidery version is also available. Val made the pillow insert inside and the pillow has an envelope back.

Marion finished the binding on her birthday blocks quilt. This is from an ancient birthday swap probably from 10 years ago or more. This was the hardest block we've ever done as a group. It required a special (expensive!) ruler and very precise piecing. It was in a magazine. I have no idea what the pattern was called, so please don't ask.
Marion is all smiles because her quilt is done.
Marion's Asian backing coordinates perfectly with the front of her quilt.
Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A new bag for Anna

Hello My Darling Quilting Peeps!

I didn't mean to stay away from you so long. After all, my work projects are finished and I went on a lovely vacation, but then my computer died... Anyhow, a visit to the Apple Store, lots of technical assistance from my wonderful husband, and voila, I'm back! Oddly, the less I write, the more followers I have on Bloglovin'... not sure how that works... you don't want me to write??

Anyways, this is technically my last finish of 2017. This is the City Zipper by Quilts Illustrated. I've used their patterns many times and I highly recommend them. My bag looks different than the pattern cover because I used one solid piece of fabric for the outside, instead of making a patchwork panel.

My darling friend Anna asked me to make her a diaper bag two years ago when she was expecting Cameron, who will turn one this year. She still needs a diaper bag, PLUS she is expecting a baby girl in June (whom I'm optimistically referring to as "Baby Nancy"), so I had to stop procrastinating and make it.
This is my lovely co-worker Julie modeling the bag.
There are lots of lovely pockets inside this bag. The pattern calls for one large inside pocket on each side and directs you to to decide how many to subdivide. After a phone consultation with Anna, I made two large pockets on one side of the bag and three medium size pockets on the other.
Anna picked out all three fabrics on eQuilter (don't look for them now, Anna bought them almost two years ago. Luckily for me, she is very patient.) When they arrived in the mail, I was stumped for a while with her color choices until I decided to use the olive green for the lining. All three fabrics are batik.
The bag has optional zipper panels on top. They were super easy to make.
This is the outside fabric, which I quilted simply in a two and a half inch grid.
Hopefully, in the next week or two, I will get myself organized and I will write a post with some technical details and give you some tips on the bag's construction.
Here is our baby Caesar all toasty warm in his coat despite the Siberian-like New England weather conditions this week. Don't worry, the pug boys have only gone out for a quick potty break. It is too cold to do anything else.
Linking up on Tuesday with Connie at Freemotion by the River. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,