CHARM SQUARE CHARM: COLOUR OF THE YEAR TOTE BAG

I know I am guilty as charged when I can sometimes be heard saying ” Not sure what I was thinking when I bought this?” In all fairness, I think I’m like a lot of us who find it hard to pass by a bargain when fabric (and other sewing related things) are on sale! So, several years ago, I must admit that I got a little too charmed by charm packs.

Not sure what these are? It is a pack of  the full line (usually) of a particular fabric cut into 5 inch squares. Sometimes there is just 1 square of each fabric in the line, sometimes 2 . I guess it depends on how many fabrics make up that line. But I doubt I have purchased charm packs with less than 30-40 squares.  Even if all you do is sew them all together to make a table runner, you will have a great project that is colour and design coordinated and will make a great gift for a friend or a decor item for your home.

This charming little tote (excuse the pun) was made in the shades of the green Pantone Colour of the Year (2017)  – well it is green – and was sewed exclusively on the Janome MC9400. 

Where did I get my inspiration/project idea? I had purchased a little pattern many years ago. However, when I pulled it out to do something with my charm pack squares, I discovered that all I had was the front cover pic and the supplies needed on the back page of the pattern. No instructions. Could well be I lost them somewhere along the way?  – this is entirely possible. Not saying it was sold to me as incomplete. I liked it then & still do…..Button Bag. But anywhere from here on in , it was “wing it central ” in my sewing room.  Truth be told, I love it like that as it gives free reign to creativity!

These are the techniques and feet/accessories used to make this little tote and matching zipper bag:

  1. The charm squares were sewed together on the Janome MC9400 using the Janome 1/4 inch foot O which comes standard with this model and with many of our other Janome models.
  2. Decorative stitch embellishment was done in the ditches between the charm squares using the Janome Ditch Quilting foot S for 9mm Janome machines. Part #202087003. This is the clip on metal ditch quilting foot. I could just as easily have used the Acufeed Flex Ditch Quilting foot Part# 202103006 but as I chose to use some fairly complex decorative stitches, I went with the first option. The Acufeed Flex feet are recommended for use with straight stitches on the machines due to the front & back motions of the Acufeed Feet flex foot. Some side to side decorative stitches don’t sew out well with this foot. But as we have so many options, this is just 100% fine. 
  3. These decorative stitches formed the quilting as well as the embellishment as the fabric had been backed with fusible low loft batting prior to stitching.
  4. The Janome Button Sewing foot T was used to attach the 8 orange buttons on the front & back of the tote. This was done after the decorative stitching.   
  5. The  tote handles were just long strips of green fabric with scrap strips of low loft batting encased in the folded fabric. Press a 1/4 inch over along one long strap raw edge. Lay the batting onto the wrong side of the strip, fold in the raw edge and then press the edge with the 1/4 inch turn under over this raw edge and press again. Pin if necessary but if you use fusible batting, pins probably won’t be needed. Finally stitch a decorative stitch the entire length of the strap to secure the folded edge in place. 
  6. The tote has a lining which has  a pocket sewed to the lining before attaching to the bag. The same decorative stitch as on the handles was sewed along the top edge of the inner pocket. This pocket is great for cell phone or keys – easily located in a hurry. Obviously more pockets with or without zippers may be added as desired.
  7. The tote and lining were constructed using the Acufeed Flex foot VD which is simply wonderful for achieving smooth even feeding of multiple layers of fabric and batting. The lining was added by sewing it first and creating box corners. Do leave a section of the lining side seam or bottom open to turn out. After creating similar box corners on the charm square tote, I popped the bag inside the lining with right sides together and then sewed the lining to the tote along the top edge of the tote, ensuring my handles were pinned correctly in place first.
  8. The bag was turned out through a hole in the side seam of the lining which was then sewed closed. And the lining was then popped back into the bag with right side of lining now showing on the inside of the bag. Press along the top edge.
  9. Top stitching was added to the top edge of the tote to have everything lay nice and flat as well as secure the handles with a double stitching in case I overfill my tote – which is entirely possible! Once again, the  Janome Acufeed Flex foot does a superb job of the top stitching.
  10. Lastly, I added a closure to the bag: zipper? magnetic clasp? button & loop? I sewed a button hole and button. It is a cute little bag which is currently being toted around on my arm.
  11. I might possibly use a stiffer batting or bag liner product so that the whole bag has a little more body to it.
  12. This project may obviously be made on many of our Janome sewing machines.
  13. The little matching zipper baggie was made with left over charm squares and is just perfect for keeping cosmetics, tissues, medication etc – all tidily stored in the bottom of the above tote.  It is an alternative to many pockets in the bag. And it is delightfully matchie-matchie! I actually had enough charm squares for 3 little baggies but the other 2 have been given away as gifts.
  14. Do use the opportunity to use up some of your scraps of ribbon or braid to further decorate the baggies. A great video tutorial for making this style of baggie may be found at Missouri Star Quilt Company. 

Are you inspired to use up some of your stash to make some colourful and practical totes and/or zipper baggies? We do hope so…… and please do tell us about what you make in the comment box below. We would love to hear from you. 

About lizafrica

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada (including Artistic Creative products) and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for almost 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to read, knit , travel and spend time with my family and friends.
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3 Responses to CHARM SQUARE CHARM: COLOUR OF THE YEAR TOTE BAG

  1. Susan says:

    Very cute. Love the decorative stitches and the red buttons!

    Like

  2. C. Begeman says:

    First of all, I buy anything of Kansas troubles. It can almost always be used in the quilts or projects I make. really enjoyed this project idea. I have a 9400 and it will probably be years before I will get to using all the sewing/quilting options and that’s fine, because I have to live to be about 180 before I get thru my stash !!!.

    Like

  3. Penny Doyle says:

    Nice to see how we can use all the fancy stitches on our 9400 machine. There are time I just have a creative block. Thanks

    Like

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