Category Archives: Billie Bag

Junior Billie Bag #3

I’ve made three Junior Billie Bags this year. The first one was made as a class sample, which I kept. The second was made as a birthday gift. Number 3 was also made as a class sample. Since I don’t need another JBB, I decided to make one for a good friend. Regular readers have seen this bag while it was still in flat pieces. Now it’s three dimensional!

A Junior Billie Bag is challenging to make — but oh, so worth it. I call it the quintessential quilter’s tote. Measuring 14″ wide, 17″ high, and 7½” wide, it’s large enough to hold a lot of supplies but small enough to be carried easily, especially because of the two sets of handles. Pockets on the outside and inside can be customized to hold a quilter’s favorite set of sewing and quilting tools.

Here’s one side of #3, finished last week:

mirs-jbb-1-800
I like that block so much I used it on #1 and #2. On the other side of the bag I made what I call a kaleido-spinner block:

mirs-jbb-2-800
Here are a couple of side views, to show you the pockets on the outside:

mirs-jbb-3-800

mirs-jbb-800-4
And finally, a peek inside the bag, which is loaded with pockets:

mirs-jbb-5

My friend Miriam was as delighted to receive it as I was to give it to her. We work on quilt projects together at the Pine Needle, the local quilt shop where I teach. It’s the same quilt shop where Billie Mahorney, the designer of the bag, taught for almost 20 years before moving to Idaho in 2009. Billie taught her bag class many times during those years, and I am very honored that she has passed the torch on to me.

The next time I see Miriam, I expect she will be toting her brand new Junior Billie Bag, loaded with her favorite things.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 7 Comments

Friday Finish: A New Kaleido-Spinner Project

kaleido-spinner-quilt-top-oct-2016
Regular readers will recognize the block — it’s Heather Peterson’s Spinners block from her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this block. In the last few months it’s shown up in a wall hanging/table runner, a king size bed runner, and one side of a Junior Billie Bag. I even taught Spinners at a quilt retreat in June.

Heather’s original design calls for six different fabrics in the triangles surrounding the center hexagon. I used six identical triangles in each Spinners block to get a kaleidoscope effect of sorts, coming up with the name “kaleido-spinner” to describe the effect.

You probably noticed something different in the quilt top pictured above: the four small kaleidoscope blocks in the second and fourth rows. I was originally going to put half-kaleido-spinner blocks there. But then I was perusing Heather’s blog, Trends and Traditions, several days ago and saw something very clever she had done.

Heather has a brand new booklet, Starstruck, coming out that features chevron fabrics in hexagon blocks; when sewn together in hexagons made of six 60° triangles, the chevron fabrics form stars. Some of the quilts featured in Heather’s book have half-size hexagons in the places where half-blocks would normally go. When I saw those quilts, I knew the concept would work very well in my quilt. So thank you, Heather, for your wonderful block design as well as the inspiration for the setting of this quilt!

Making the half-size kaleidoscope blocks fit properly turned out to be quite a challenge. The full-size kaleido-spinner blocks in my quilt finish at 15½” x 13½”. That means the half-size kaleidoscope blocks finish at 7¾” x 6¾” . On top of that, I opted to finish all of the setting triangles on the sides of the blocks with Y-seams to extend the width. I added 3″ strips at the top and bottom to float the blocks the same amount. The quilt top now measures about 53″ x 73″.

I hope you can tell from the photo that the black background isn’t a solid. It’s a tiny random white-on-black dot by Cotton + Steel called “Sprinkle” that reinforces the feeling that those kaleido blocks are spinning in a night sky. (Hmmm. Perhaps there’s a quilt name in that image. I’ll have to work on that.)

Now, a confession. I didn’t notice until I was cropping the photo above that I had reversed the two large blocks in the fourth row. I can’t believe I didn’t see that when I was sewing the rows together. Am I going to fix it? Yes, I am. I worked very hard when laying out the blocks to achieve a good balance of color and value. It feels “off” to me now. My obsessive-compulsive self will be much happier when that change has been made.

There’s one more thing I need to do to this quilt top before I can declare it truly done. That will be the subject of my next post.

P.S. Heather Peterson did not ask me to promote her new book. I just felt it was important to acknowledge her designs (block and setting) in the creation of my latest quilt top.

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, Billie Bag, hexagons, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, update, wall hanging | 5 Comments

JBB Update: Moving Right Along

JBB? That’s the Junior Billie Bag, the most versatile quilter’s tote I’ve ever seen. I’m teaching a class on it at the Pine Needle, making one along with my students but staying a couple steps ahead to show them how the bag, designed years ago by Billie Mahorney, comes together. (You can see what a finished Junior Billie Bag looks like here, and you can see my first post about the JBB currently under construction here.)

The front and back panels are now quilted, with the lining and two sets of handles attached:

jbb-f2016-front-and-back-panels-quilted
Back in August, before making the two blocks you see above, I used a strip of that bold floral fabric to make a test kaleidoscope block, thinking I might use it on a front or back panel:

jbb-f2016-kaleido-block
It didn’t make the cut. I liked it but didn’t love it. Still, I thought there might be a way to use it in the Junior Billie Bag. And there was. I decided to incorporate the kaleido block into an exterior pocket.

A kaleidoscope block made of eight 45° triangles forms an octagon. I downsized it and converted it into a smaller circle, surrounding the circle in the brightest lemon yellow fabric I could find:

jbb-f2016-kaleido-circle-pocket
Here’s what it looks like now, made into a pocket attached to one of the side panels of the Junior Billie Bag:

jbb-f2016-side-panel-outer-pocket-2
The circle is 4⅝” in diameter and the pocket is 6″ deep.

See that band of black fabric at the top of the pocket? I used the same fabric to make a slightly deeper pocket (8″) on the other side panel:

jbb-f2016-side-panel-outer-pocket
I love how the wavy lines on the pocket fabric play against the lush floral you see above it.

In an upcoming post I’ll show you the pockets on the inside of the bag — lots of them, specifically sized for the tools quiltmakers use most. Please come back for a look.

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Billie Bag, faux-kaleido quilts, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, tote bags, update | 7 Comments

Under Construction: A New Junior Billie Bag

Another Junior Billie Bag?

I’ve already finished two this year, one for myself and one for a friend. Now I’m making a third one. The reason? I’m teaching a class that begins tomorrow at the Pine Needle. I made my first Billie Bag, designed by Billie Mahorney, about 10 years ago, and found it very challenging. It’s definitely not for beginners.

Now that I am teaching Billie’s design (in a slightly smaller version), I find that the easiest way to give my students the confidence to make their own totes is to demystify the process by showing how the individual components go together. I call it a “deconstructed Billie Bag” but in truth it’s a Billie Bag under construction.

I guess every time I teach this class I will wind up with a new Junior Billie Bag. This one is going to a friend as a surprise.

jr-billie-bag-sept-2016
What you are seeing in the photo above are the front and back panels, the side panels/bottom unit, two sizes of straps, and some of the interior pockets. In a few weeks’ time, you will see a finished quilter’s tote measuring 14″ x 17″, with a generous 7½” depth to accommodate a 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler.

I started out with two 12½” blocks to which strips were added to make two panels that will be trimmed to the proper size after quilting:

jr-billie-bag-front-and-back-panels-sept-2016

The panel on the left is yet another version of the Spinners block, from the book On the Run Again by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, that I’ve used in some other projects this year. The one on the right is a traditional star block that I jazzed up with a four-patch kaleidoscope (what I call a 4-Patch Wonder block).

Isn’t that a great black-white-yellow floral print? I found it last summer at a quilt shop in Central Oregon and bought the end of the bolt. It’s by Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures. I paired it with one of Cotton + Steel’s Basics from 2015: “Sprinkle,” designed by Sarah Watts. (I love the Sprinkle design so much I bought it in two other colors.)

My biggest challenge in making this Junior Billie Bag will be keeping Coco out of my sewing room:

coco-with-latest-jr-billie-bag

She’s a frequent visitor. Need I say more?

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Billie Bag, cats, faux-kaleido quilts, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, tote bags, update | 12 Comments

A New Coat for my Rotary Cutter

I’m heading off shortly to Hood Canal in Washington State for a quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. On one evening I’m going to show my students how to make a rotary cutter coat based on my free pattern (tutorial here).

As I was gathering my materials yesterday, I realized I didn’t have a rotary cutter coat of my own. All the ones I have made were given away.

I fixed that in short order. Here is my (new) rotary cutter coat:

rotary cutter cut

The fabric? Two prints from the Paradise line designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Cottons. I bought a lot of this line when it came out last year. You may recognize it, because it goes with the Junior Billie Bag I made a few months ago. These are the front and back panels of my bag:

Jr Billie Bag front and back

Now my Billie Bag is packed for the retreat, including my new rotary cutter coat:

billie bag and cutter coat
I’m good to go!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, rotary cutter case, update | 5 Comments

Presenting: Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag

The Junior Billie Bag I made for my friend Deborah is finished. Today’s late afternoon sun and shade seemed just right for a mini photo shoot on my back deck.

Here’s one side of the bag, with the longer of two sets of handles draped over a 24″ tall ruler, conveniently tucked into one of the side pockets:

Deborah's JBB one side
Here’s the other side, showing the shorter set of handles:

Debeorah's JBB other side
Just look at all these pockets, waiting to be filled!

Deborah's JBB pockets
In case you didn’t notice, the side panels on the outside of the bag have pockets, too.

You can read earlier posts about the making of Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag here:

April 21: Pockets A-Plenty: Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag
March 28: In the Works: A New Junior Billie Bag

The Junior Billie Bag, measuring 14″ x 17″ x 7½”, is a downsized version of the quilter’s tote designed several years ago by Billie Mahorney, a popular local quilt teacher and designer. (I made one for myself a few months ago, which you can see here.)

Billie never wrote a pattern for her bag but taught classes for many years at the Pine Needle in Lake Oswego and elsewhere in Oregon. She is now retired from teaching and has passed the mantle on to me to teach her wonderful design.

Earlier this week I finished teaching the second of two classes on the Junior Billie Bag and will most likely be teaching more classes in the fall. Two of my students have already completed their bags, with three more close behind. When all 10 bags are finished, we’ll have a virtual Junior Billie Bag parade. You’re invited!

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation on NTT (Needle and Thread Thursday).

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 6 Comments

Pockets A-Plenty: Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag

Time for a progress report on the quilter’s tote that I’m making for my friend Deborah’s birthday. Known as the Junior Billie Bag, it’s a scaled down version of the tote designed several years ago by my teacher and mentor Billie Mahorney. I’m making Deborah’s bag alongside the students in my two Junior Billie Bag classes at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop. It really helps to have the individual components on hand so I can show my students exactly how a bag goes together. It will measure 14″ x 17″ x 7½” when finished.

The pockets on the inside and outside of the bag are customized to fit a quiltermaker’s favorite rulers and tools. I’m hoping that the pocket sizes I chose for Deborah’s bag will be a good fit for her. Here’s a look at the inside pockets on the side panels . . .

JBB inside side panel pockets

and the outside pockets on the side panels:

JBB outside pockets

Both outside pockets are trimmed with the solid red French General fabric loved by so many quiltmakers.

Now have a look at the inside of the bag with the side panels pinned to one of the front/back panels:

JBB inside pockets (2)

All told, this bag has 20 pockets. That’s a lot of pockets!

When I first wrote about Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag (you can read that post here), I hadn’t yet quilted the second front/back panel. The original plan was to do some free motion quilting but I opted instead for a modified chevron that extends the lines of the star points:

JBB second panel

It’s a nice counterpoint to the serpentine stitching on the first front/back panel:

JBB front back panel 1

I’m having a lot of fun working on this bag and am happy to report that I am entering the home stretch. Deborah won’t have to wait too much longer to claim her birthday present!

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation on Needle and Thread Thursday (NTT).

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), tote bags, update | 6 Comments

In the Works: A New Junior Billie Bag

And here’s a look at it:

Deborah's JBB in pieces

This quilter’s tote, a slightly smaller version of the one designed by Billie Mahorney close to 20 years ago, is a birthday present for my friend and fellow Quister (Quilt Sister) Deborah, who recently reached one of those milestone birthdays ending in zero. When Deborah opened her birthday present last week, it was in pieces but she was still happy because she’s seen mine and knows what hers is going to look like when it’s done.

I’m teaching two classes at the Pine Needle right now on how to make a Junior Billie Bag, and I’m using Deborah’s bag to show my students the steps in construction. That’s why her bag wasn’t completed before her big day. All the individual components have been made: front and back panels, side and bottom panels, pockets, long and short straps, and binding. My students can see exactly how it comes together before they take the same steps on their bags. And they can choose whatever designs they want for the front and back panels so each bag is truly unique.

The panel on the right in the photo above is ready for some free motion quilting in the outer strips of solid red. As you can see, the panel on the left was quilted with a simple serpentine stitch in the red fabric around the Churn Dash block. The red fabric, by the way, is some French General by Moda that’s been in my stash for a few years just waiting for the right project. I did use some of it a couple of years ago, along with some of the same fabrics you see above, when I made this sewing machine dust cover for Deborah:

2013-3, Deborah's sewing machine dust cover, side view

At the time I had no idea I would be making her a coordinating Junior Billie Bag down the road. I’m so glad I had plenty of fabric left over from that first project.

If you’d like to see what a Junior Billie Bag looks like completed, click on this link to see the one I finished in January. Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag, which will measure 14″ x 17″ x 7½” when finished, should be in her hands by this time next month.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), tote bags, update | 2 Comments

My New Junior Billie Bag

Yes, it’s done! My Junior Billie Bag, the quilter’s tote I’ve been working on these last few weeks, is now ready to travel. It’s full of my favorite quilter’s tools and supplies — and there’s room to spare.

Let me show you a few pictures, beginning with the front and back. Actually, the front and back are interchangeable; I think of them as the pink side and the orange side.

Let’s start with the orange side, with the long handles showing:

Jr Billie Bag orange side 1

Here’s another look at the orange side, this time showing the shorter handles:

Jr Billie Bag short handles orange side

And now the pink side with long handles . . .

Jr Billie Bag pink side 1

. . . and the short handles:

Jr Billie Bag short handles pink side

Having two sets of handles gives you choices in how to carry the bag — over your shoulder or in your hand.

Here’s a shot of one of the side panels, the one with a single pocket:

Jr Billie Bag side view with one pocket

(That reflection you see is from a specialty ruler.)

Now have a look at the other side panel. Just for fun I added contrasting bands of color at the top and bottom of the two pockets on this side:

Jr Billie Bag side with two pockets

The small pocket was sized to hold my business cards on one side and a name badge on the other. That’s one of the great features of this bag: you can customize the pockets for whatever you want to put in them.

In these three-quarter angle shots, both sets of straps are tucked inside the bag:

Jr Billie Bag three quarter angle orange side

Jr Billie Bag three quarter angle pink side
Which side do you like better, the orange or the pink?

Except for the orange batik and navy Maywood Shadowplay fabric used on the front and back of my Junior Billie Bag, all of the fabrics are from the Paradise line designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Cottons. Several more Paradise prints are inside the bag in multiple pockets. It’s hard to get a good shot of the pockets now that the bag is done; this photo shows the pockets before the bag was completely sewn together:

Jr Billie Bag inside view of pockets

(I went wild for these fabrics and bought almost the entire line, so you will be seeing more of them in future projects.)

Measuring 14″ in width, 17″ in length, and 7½” in depth, my Junior Billie Bag is a slightly downsized version of the original bag designed at least a decade ago by Billie Mahorney, a popular quilt teacher in the Pacific Northwest, now retired. You can read more about Billie and my earlier progress on the bag in these previous posts:

Dec. 29, 2015:  Billie’s Blessing
Dec. 31, 2015:  Update: Junior Billie Bag
Jan. 4, 2016:  The Third Dimension

It feels good to report a finish on this, the sixth day of the New Year.

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation on the eve of NTT (Needle and Thread Thursday).

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 5 Comments

The Third Dimension

It’s official: my Junior Billie Bag has reached the 3D stage.

If you’ve been following me at First Light Designs, you know I’m working on a Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney.  A smaller scale version of Billie’s original bag, the Junior measures 14″ x 17″ x 7½” — the perfect size for toting a large (but manageable) amount of quilting supplies.

One of the panels (front or back? I haven’t decided yet) has been attached to the side panels and bottom, and the binding has been sewn on. This is what the bag looks like from the outside . . .

Jr Billie Bag flattened view
. . . and this is what it looks like from the inside:

Jr Billie Bag inside view of pockets
To paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, there’s a whole lot of pockets going on!

With the binding applied along this panel, my Junior Billie Bag is looking more finished. Now you can easily see how the two sets of handles come into play (although you see only half of them here):

Jr Billie Bag one side with binding sewn on

The longer straps go over the shoulder; the smaller straps make it easy to carry the bag like a satchel. The best of both worlds.

When you see this bag next, it will be completed! Before the first week of 2016 is over, I expect to have my first finish to report.

I’d say the New Year is off to a very good start.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 4 Comments