Billie’s Blessing

Junior Billie Bag 800
Dawn’s Junior Billie Bag, made in 2011

Back in 2009, when my favorite quilt teacher Billie Mahorney moved from Oregon to Idaho, she suggested I take over the teaching of her popular quilter’s tote. Billie, who taught at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego, named her tote “The Take It All With You Bag” but over the years it has become known among local quilters as the “Billie Bag.”

Each Billie Bag is unique because the maker can put whatever design she wants on the front and back of the bag, and the inside pockets are customized to hold the maker’s favorite quilt supplies. The bag holds an amazing amount, including a 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler, thanks to the 7½” width of the side panels.

I had made the bag once in a class with Billie several years ago. While I loved the finished product, I found the process very challenging. Not only did I not relish the idea of making another bag, I couldn’t even imagine teaching others how. After all, I had never taught a quilt class before.

In 2011, Billie returned to the Pine Needle as a visiting instructor and offered the class again. I was so delighted she was teaching again that I signed up for her class, conveniently forgetting I had sworn never to make another Billie Bag. Good thing, too, because I thoroughly enjoyed the class and was delighted with my new Billie Bag, shown above, a slightly smaller version of the original.

By the time I made this second Billie Bag, I was teaching at the Pine Needle myself. Still, it took another four years before I felt I was ready to take on the challenge of teaching Billie’s design. I talked to Billie a few weeks ago to see where she stood on the issue. Happily, she still thinks it’s a fine idea and has given me her blessing to carry on with the teaching.

The Pine Needle scheduled a class in March and April 2016, which filled almost immediately when word got out. That’s how popular Billie Bags are! What else could the Pine Needle do but add a second class? (You can find more information on the upcoming classes here.)

With classes now scheduled, I am in the process of making another bag to refresh my memory on the process. Billie’s original bag measures 21″ x 21″ x 7½”. I’m teaching the smaller size: 14″ x 17″ x 7½”. It’s been dubbed the “Junior Billie Bag,” and I’m making my new version from fabrics in the Paradise line designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Fabrics. You may remember from this post last summer that I fell in love with this line of fabrics and went on a bit of a shopping spree at Hawthorne Threads:

Paradise fabrics
Here are my front and back panels pieced and quilted:

Jr Billie Bag front and back
The panel on the left features two inset circles, made using my favorite freezer paper method, and narrow flanges framing the 12″ block. The panel on the right contains a 4-Patch Wonder block (my name for a four-patch kaleidoscope) in the center. I used an orange batik in my stash to set off the floral fabrics.

More of the Paradise prints are being used on the inside pockets. Lots of prints; lots of pockets.

I’ll be posting pictures as my Junior Billie Bag comes together. I hope you’ll come back to see my progress!




This entry was posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Billie’s Blessing

  1. Sandy says:

    You are amazing Dawn!!!!

  2. Vickie says:

    Each of the versions is stunning! Have fun!

  3. Suzette Shoulders says:

    HI! I read your newsletter with delight today, as I had lost track of Billie! She was in my quilt group in Beaverton/SW Portland, PHD. I moved to Bend in 2001, and the last time I saw Billie was at the Northwest Quilters’ show in May of 2007. She told me then she was moving to Idaho, but I had been longing for news of her, and am so glad she is doing well! You have fun teaching the Billie Bag, but be sure to tell people not to load it too heavily! One friend of mine to tried to take everything with her in her BB, and ended up hurting her shoulder. My husband always says we quilters pack like we are taking the entire house, including the kitchen sink! LOL, Suzette in 22 degree Bend, where I am so happy to be inside watching the birds and stitching!

    • Dawn says:

      Hi, Suzette! The smaller Billie Bag has two sets of handles, long and short, so it can be worn over the shoulder or held by hand, like a satchel. And even though the bag is smaller, it still holds a lot of quilt supplies. Stay warm — and Happy New Year!

  4. Diane says:

    Another teaching challenge I am positive you are up to!! Your fabric choices are terrific of course.

  5. Arden says:

    Dawn: will you be teaching it again? I wouldn’t be able to make the orientation for the 2nd class and might have to miss the last one. Could I get enough help without those 2 days, or should I wait until fall? I’m really looking for a good bag to drag to small quilt groups and have not found one yet. Does anyone sell the pattern?……thanks in advance…arden

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Arden. No pattern — Billie never wanted to write one. If the class proves popular, the Pine Needle will definitely schedule more of them!

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