With a new Junior Billie Bag in my sewing room and a coordinating tool caddy, it was just a matter of time before I gave into the temptation to complete the suite of accessories. Pictured with the tool caddy below are a scissors case, a rotary cutter coat, and a fabric box:
I love these fabrics and colors so much!
You can find picture-heavy tutorials for the scissors case and rotary cutter coat under the Tutorials link at the top of my home page . . . or you can just click on this link.
Speaking of Junior Billie Bag accessories, I forgot to show you the tool caddy I made recently to go with the JBB completed last spring for a class I was teaching:
My friend Cheryl S. was the surprise recipient of this JBB and tool caddy when we were together at Quilt Camp earlier this month.
I’m so ready to shift gears! There’s a new-ish project I’m eager to get back to as soon as I finish up a couple of ongoing projects. And as my twin sister Diane keeps reminding me, the newly remodeled kitchen won’t be complete until I make those valances . . .
A rather cryptic title for a blog post, I know, but regular readers know what it means. My latest Junior Billie Bag in-the-making has gone three-dimensional:
As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favorite part of the process, when a series of flat panels like this . . .
. . . and this . . .
. . . and this . . .
. . . are transformed into the quintessential quilter’s tote known as the Junior Billie Bag.
Junior Billie Bags (JBBs for short) have been a frequent topic on my blog since I started teaching Billie Mahorney’s design three years ago. I have been asked many times about a pattern for this tote but Billie, who owns the copyright on the design, never wanted to create a pattern.
Teaching her design in a hands-on class is by far the best way to go because I can share tips and techniques that have come to me through experience and also troubleshoot problems my students may encounter, just as Billie did when she was teaching. I’m so sorry that quilters across the country and beyond who have seen pictures of various JBBs on my blog don’t have the opportunity to create one of their own.
As I was snapping photos for this post, a little white paw made its way into the frame:
In my last post you saw one of the front/back panels of my current Junior Billie Bag under construction. The second panel is now done. It’s the one on the left in this photo:
I love the look of the small Churn Dash block inside the Sawtooth Star block. I first saw this combination in a quilt by Jenifer Gaston called Churning Stars and liked it so well I used it on my most recent Junior Billie Bag. (Someday I’ll make an entire quilt from this block design but that’s on the back burner for now.)
In the center of the Churn Dash in the photo above is a fussycut square from my focus fabric, a vibrant floral print from In the Beginning Fabrics. You see much more of the floral design in the first panel, which features an inset circle framed by turquoise flanges.
I used the same floral fabric to make two small pockets that go on the outside of the bag on one of the side panels. Those are on the left in this photo:
The other glimpses of fabric are some of the interior pockets. This bag has lots and lots of pockets! It’s been fun diving into my stash to audition these fabric combinations. The most difficult thing is making decisions about which fabrics to use. You may have noticed I like to combine batiks with woven cottons.
The next time you see Junior Billie Bag #10, it will be three-dimensional. I hope you’ll check back soon to see the transformation.
Can you believe I’m up to #10 already? I had already made two Junior Billie Bags when I started teaching the class in 2016. Seven classes, seven more bags. (You can see them all here.)
I make a new bag with each class so I can show the students the individual components of the JBB and how they go together. Then I assemble the bag right along with the students so that I have a finished product the same time they do.
I’m doing the prep work for my eighth class, coming up next week. I have only one of the two front/back panels done so far because I haven’t yet decided what I want to do for the other panel. My focus fabric is a gorgeous floral from the “Unusual Garden” line by Jason Yenter of In the Beginning Fabrics. Here’s a better look at it, along with the fabrics I pulled from my stash for straps and pockets:
My plan this time is to leave the bag unassembled so that I can use it in future classes. My worry is that I’m going to love the components so much I won’t be able to resist sewing it together!
I had hoped to complete all the appliqué in the center medallion of Hazel’s Diary Quilt by now. Here’s how far I’ve gotten:
Yes, I have a ways to go but I’m pretty excited by the way the medallion is coming together. For reference, the center block including the red scallop measures 18″ square and the entire medallion measures 36½” square. It will be on point in the finished quilt. There will be flowers in each corner and leaves along the vines.
What’s happened in the two weeks since my last post? My husband Charlie and I took a road trip to Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in the southern part of the state. There we rendezvoused with Charlie’s daughter Barbie and our granddaughters Bonnie (19) and Beatrice (16) for a family vacation. They live in San Francisco and Ashland just happens to be the halfway point between our two homes. Despite being saddled with summer colds, Charlie and I had a great time with the three Bs. We saw a couple of plays, enjoyed strolling around the charming town of Ashland, and did a little shopping.
We brought Beatrice back to Portland with us as she was accepted into Oregon Ballet Theatre’s intensive summer training program for the month of July. She is in class six days a week — that’s pretty intensive! We are so delighted that she can be with us for part of the summer. We always look forward to Bonnie and Beatrice’s summer visits. Bonnie couldn’t come this year because she’s working two jobs at home. She’s so grown up now; she even has her driver’s license!
I took my appliqué project to Ashland to work on and managed to apply a few leaves and petals. Barbie was much more productive. She completed a lunchbag for Beatrice while we there — completely by hand and without a pattern. She’s very creative that way. Take a look:
The bag is made of oilcloth. Barbie enclosed the raw edges with double-fold bias tape that she stitched on to the oilcloth with lime green embroidery floss. She sized the bag to hold three plastic containers: one for a sandwich, one for fresh vegetables, and one for fresh fruit. Then she added a pocket on the outside to hold granola bars:
A ballerina dancing several hours a day needs a substantial lunch!
Look at the cute detail of French knots where the ends of the bias tape meet:
Here’s Bea on arrival at OBT for her first day of classes:
Back to Hazel’s Diary Quilt: I hope to show you my completed medallion very shortly. If I’m to finish my quilt top by the end of July (my stated goal), I need to pick up the pace.
Well, friends, many a Friday has come and gone since my last Friday Finish so I am extra happy to show off my latest Junior Billie Bag. First one side . . .
. . . and then the other:
I’m not sure which one I like better! How about you?
In the next two photos you can see (sort of) the exterior pockets on each side:
I sure do like how the striped binding frames the front and back panels. You can see that I used it on the straps and exterior pockets on one side, too.
It’s so much fun to customize these quilter’s totes. I’ve used a variety of 12″ blocks in the nine Junior Billie Bags I’ve made and I’ve also played around with the size and number of exterior pockets. Speaking of pockets, here’s a shot from the top down that shows the interior pockets as well as the second set of handles, the smaller ones that allow you to carry the JBB like a satchel:
Here’s a shout out to Billie Mahorney, the designer of the Junior Billie Bag and my mentor. It’s easy to see why I often refer to the JBB as “the quintessential quilter’s tote.”
If you’d like to see the other ones I’ve made, clicking here will take you to the Junior Billie Bag page in my Gallery.
. . . of making a Junior Billie Bag is that moment when the bag, until now a series of flat panels . . .
. . . becomes three-dimensional:
You are looking at the inside of my Junior Billie Bag, with the side panels/bottom unit pinned to one of the front/back panels. You may not be able to tell from the photo that there are 14 pockets showing. The other front/back panel (not shown) has five pockets.
Combined with the pockets on the outside of the bag . . .
. . . this JBB has 23 pockets. Now you know why I call it the “quintessential quilter’s tote!”
It’s a lot of fun playing with pocket design for the outside of the bag. For the pockets on the left side above, I trimmed them in the same striped fabric I’m going to use for the binding. (While I love the look of striped binding cut on the diagonal, I opted to cut my strips on the straight of grain for this one.)
For the pocket on the right side, I started with a four-patch kaleidoscope (what I call a Four-Patch Wonder block) and made a double inset circle.
I sure do like that vivid blue against black and white!
Yes indeed. I’ve been hard at work on the components of this quilter’s tote in preparation for teaching a workshop later this month. The front/back panels are quilted and trimmed and the two sets of handles have been made.
The design of the handles is very clever. You start with strips of different widths, resulting in the wider strip wrapping around to the underside to form a faux piping. In the photo below you can see both sides of the handles:
The dark stripe would ordinarily go on the outside but I’m loving that jolt of royal blue with the contrasting piping so much I’ve decided to put it on the outside. That’s how the straps are positioned in the first photo.
I did some stash diving to come up with fabrics for the various and sundry pockets that make this quilter’s tote such a delight to use. Here you can see a few of the pockets I’ve made for the inside of the bag:
Still to come: pockets for the outside. All told, this Junior Billie Bag will have over 20 pockets, all thoughtfully sized to hold a quilter’s favorite tools.
When I started working on this tote I thought I might give it away. Now I don’t think I can bear to part with it!
Last night I got the proverbial bee in my bonnet and made this 12½” quilt block:
I’ve been wanting to make a test block since spotting Jenifer Gaston’s Churning Stars quilt in her book Primitive Style: Folk-Art Quilts and Other Finery (Martingale Press, 2015):
I’ve always liked the classic Churn Dash block and I love seeing it in the center of a Sawtooth Star block. I could see making an entire quilt using Jenifer Gaston’s charming design. In fact, I have a collection of indigo and cheddar prints that would be perfect for such a quilt.
For now, though, I am sticking with one block because it’s destined to be one of the front/back panels on my next quilter’s tote, namely the Junior Billie Bag.
See how well the new block goes with the star block I made the other day?
Not content to stop after making the block, I added the sashing strips that will make both blocks the correct size for the front/back panels of the Junior Billie Bag:
. . . is coming up and I couldn’t be happier about it.
In just a few minutes I’m leaving for Quilt Camp — four days and three nights with a group of terrific women I’ve had the pleasure of “camping out” with for several years. In the past few years we’ve gone to Camp Tilikum in Newberg, Oregon, just about an hour away from home. It’s a popular spot for quilt retreats.
I’m packed and ready to go:
Project boxes and fabric tub? Check. Sewing machine and wraparound table? Check. Suitcase? Check. Billie Bag? Check. Big board? Check.
Camp ends at 4:00 pm Wednesday but I’m heading back early, picking up the Dear Husband and heading to the Oregon coast where I’m doing a trunk show and lecture for a quilt guild on Thursday and teaching Part 2 of my Junior Billie Bag workshop on Friday. The DH and I are staying an extra day for a mini-vacation.
The quilts I’m taking for the trunk show are stacked on the couch, ready to be packed into bags when I get back:
I can’t wait to see the progress my students have made on their Junior Billie Bags in the couple of weeks since the first workshop. Speaking of which, I couldn’t resist seeing what my current one is going to look like when it’s sewn together. I’ll be demonstrating this step at the second workshop so for now I simply pinned the side/bottom panel unit to one of the front/back panels:
One of the fabrics I chose for pockets on the side panels is a batik with directional bubbles. Just for fun I made the bubbles horizontal on one side and vertical on the other. They may not be easy to see once the bag is all put together but I like knowing they are there.
No more work on this till after Quilt Camp. I’ll be working on Hazel’s Diary Quilt. Here’s hoping I make a lot of progress on it!