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On Quilting “For Keeps”

I have a big pile of quilts that my family uses every day. Sometimes, those quilts are folded in a neat stack next to the couch, but more often they can be found in a crumpled heap, or my kids are dragging them around the house giving their stuffed animals rides on them, or one is crammed underneath the ottoman, or one’s in the washing machine because somebody spilled on it. And I love that: In my opinion, all of the above are what quilts should do. I adore having that pile available for whatever purpose anybody wants them to serve, whether it’s staying warm on a chilly evening or building a fort for the American Girl dolls.

Know when the most recent of those quilts was made? 2012.

Because somewhere along the way, I started taking quilts to trunk shows. And sending them off to fabric companies. And sometimes getting them professionally quilted by superstars whose work are true masterpieces, so you certainly don’t want to drag that around on the floor. And people said things like, “That quilt was in a book! Take good care of it—it’s special!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Love it. I’m not apologizing for attempting to make money on my quilting, or implying that turning my hobby into a job has taken the passion out of it for me. I still love what I do and feel incredibly lucky to have this dream job, even after spending the last year working a little (okay, a lot) more than I might have liked and feeling plenty burned out after Quilt Market this spring. And I still put my heart and soul into everything I make, even my “working quilts.”

But. There’s just no substitute for making a quilt that you know is going to get loved to death by your family. No substitute for making a quilt that’s going to get super soft and crinkly from a hundred trips through the washing machine. A quilt to sit on while you watch fireworks or have doll tea parties. Isn’t that what makes a quilt truly special, not the fact that it was in a book? Whenever I’m making a quilt, my girls always come to oooh and ahhh over it, and invariably they ask, “Do we get to KEEP this one?” And by that they mean, “Do we get to have this one in the pile in the family room, instead of squirreling it away in a corner of your studio, only to be taken out for trunk shows?”

 

Enter Amy Gibson’s new book, For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living. You probably know Amy from her Craftsy classes or her blog Stitchery Dickory Dock. Her gorgeous new book has reminded me of the importance of taking time out from things that are designed and made strictly for my business, in order to keep making special quilts for the most special people in my life. It’s a tough balance to strike of course, because there are only so many hours in the day, but it’s important, after all!

And what better place to start than that scrap quilt I’ve been itching to make for months?

I was initially thinking of an Irish Chain quilt, but as these little pairs of squares have started coming together, I’m now leaning toward a postage stamp quilt—a postage stamp quilt of 1″ squares, you guys! Just the kind of beautifully torturous project that you want to keep forever and ever and let your family use and abuse. : )
My goal is to use at least a small portion of every single print in my scrap bins. Every one of them! I’m sure some will get culled eventually, but it’s the working goal for now, anyway. I’ve divided my scraps roughly into 8 color families and my goal is to do two colors a week over the next four weeks. The reds are already done, as you can see. : ) Then I’ll lay them out into a big ol’ scrappy rainbow and spend the next decade or so sewing them all together. Good times.

While my particular “balance problem” might be unique to bloggers and pattern designers, I think in this day of Pinterest and beautiful photos online, we can all be tempted to get off track and make things for the wrong reasons. Or to believe that everything has to be absolutely perfect in order to be “good enough.” For Keeps hits the reset button on all of that. The projects range from classic quilts to playmats and pocket pillows that hold books—all written with Amy’s trademark sense of humor and illustrated with beautiful photography that reminds you that the simple things in life are often the best. : )

 

 

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WIP Wednesday: Endless Scraps

I’m saving most of my good stuff for blog posts that you’ll see over the next few days! But I’ve been working away on a couple of projects lately.

My scrap quilt. It. Is. On. After much thought, I’m going ahead with an Irish Chain quilt, but I’m making a bazillion teeny blocks out of a gazillion even-teenier squares because … I enjoy a good trial by fire? What my summer really needed was more monotony? I don’t know. But I think it will be pretty darn cool when it’s done. Oh, and did I mention it’s going to be a color-spectrum quilt? Well, of course it is.

Also. This was happening. Most of Tuesday afternoon, in fact, this was happening. The girls are in a kids’ quilting bee this year. This month, both of my girls made star blocks! I’ll post more about that next week.

And finally, the kitchen is coming along—I’m currently midway through my second coat of paint. This is where the monotony really comes in. But it’s looking amazing and I love it! So much lighter and brighter in there. Still, painting fatigue is starting to set in and I’ve got a loooong way to go. I think I’d far rather sew a bazillion teeny squares.

Okay, what are you working on? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/lee.a.heinrich). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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100 Quilts For Kids Baby Quilt

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

Because “in just under the wire” is now apparently my quilting motto, here it is—my entry for 100 Quilts for Kids, the charity quilt drive hosted by Katie at Swim Bike Quilt.

I’m just gonna say it: This quilt is kind of a hot mess. Fortunately, you have to look closely to fully appreciate the poor construction of some of these blocks. And my efforts to minimize the cut-off points just seemed to make the background wonky instead of improving things. So just don’t look too closely. Please and thank you. : )

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

That’s close enough!

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

Okay, I actually like this particular block a lot, so you can look a little closer at this section. : )

Other things I like about this quilt: My polka-dot background choice, the red cross-hatch binding, and the deliberately over-the-top vintagey goodness of the whole thing.

I quilted it with vertical wavy lines. This is my go-to form of quilting when I want to finish something in a hurry and without having to concentrate very much. Just set your machine to the wavy-line decorative stitch, adjust the settings to a much longer stitch-length and maximum width, and there you have it. It’s quilting that looks free-motion but actually isn’t. You move the quilt straight, the machine does all the work.

100 Quilts for Kids quilt
Threw a binding on and I was good to go. All told, I spent about two hours quilting and binding this little quilt. It’s nice to go for the fast finish every once in a while. I haven’t yet figured out where I’m donating this, but I hope whatever child ends up with it enjoys it, flaws and all.

The 100 Quilts for Kids linky closes tonight at midnight, but even if you’re reading this after the linky closes, stop over there and check out all the beautiful quilts! What an amazing outpouring of effort and kindness.

Have an A1 day!

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WIP Wednesday: Recovering

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
After battling that delightful fall cold for the better part of this week, I finally got up off the couch on Monday and I’m getting my energy back. About time! Feeling unproductive is the worst.

Cartwheels
almost finished my Waterfront Park Cartwheel blocks when I screwed up some cutting and had to order more fabric. Blurg. Good thing I actually started this project in a timely manner instead of procrastinating until the last minute like I usually do. : ) I love how it’s turning out—it reminds me of shards of broken glass, all jagged edges, but yet sparkly too. And I’m so excited about this quilt, because for the first time, a quilt of mine is going to Market to sell my own wares. This quilt will be up in the booth of one of my pattern distributors, in hopes of bringing in lots of pattern orders from shops.

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

With just under a week to go until the 100 Quilts for Kids link-up closes, I finished my charity quilt top with my stray Farmer’s Wife blocks. A black dot print might not be the most typically kid-friendly print, but I had it on hand and I really like it for the background. And that counts for something, even with a charity quilt, right? (Thanks to all of you who suggested dots!) Now I just need to quilt this one up. I’m thinking it needs a nice red binding.

Finally, I’m working on a shot-cotton challenge for the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild. I wasn’t feeling super inspired by my assigned color—in fact, it kind of left me cold. But I guess that’s why they call it a challenge. : ) Anyway, I think I’m onto something now. But sorry, no pictures—it’s an anonymous challenge because we’ll all be voting!

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab the WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

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Silent Auction Quilt

So, remember the Spoonflower fabric I made with self-portraits of the kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class? Remember how I said I needed to use that fabric to make something for a silent auction, but I didn’t want to make a quilt?

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

Well, of course, I made a quilt.

I considered a lot of other options, including pillowcases, a big pillow for a reading nook, a tote bag, etc. The problem was I had to make one large item that would entice people to bid high. Somehow, pillowcases or a tote bag just didn’t sound like something people would be willing to pay a lot for, even if it was plastered with their kid’s face! In the end, my husband was the unlikely one who talked me into a quilt. He said, “As much as I jokingly complain about all the quilts we have in this house, I do think people like them—I mean, who can’t use a nice quilt?” Thanks, honey. : )

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

Of course, I spent so long trying to decide what to make, by the time I bit the bullet and committed myself to a quilt, I had exactly two days to make the thing, from start to finish. Ah, why do I do these things to myself??

But anyway, this is what I ended up with. I think it turned out really cute, in spite of being extremely rushed.

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

Since I was working under such a tight time frame, I knew I wanted a simple design and a nice easy pattern to follow, so that I wouldn’t have to think. : ) Faith’s Lemon Squares pattern was perfect! It allowed me to feature some nice big squares of the kids’ fabric. I supplemented the kids’ print with some colorful fabric from my stash that coordinated with the little artists’ palettes.

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

On the back, I used a nice big piece of the print, to show off all those great drawings. (FYI, some of these pictures were taken before the quilt was bound.)

The quilt ended up selling for $250, which I think is wonderful considering that it was a class project and therefore had a limited pool of bidders—only the parents of the other 20 kids in my daughter’s class would be interested in it, after all! I doubt a pair of pillowcases would have gotten even close to that much. And it fetched the highest price of all of the classroom projects (every class had its own). So I’m proud and happy that I could help raise some cash for the school, and I saw the high bidder walking out with it at the end of night, practically hugging it, she was so happy to have won it. That warmed my heart. : )

P.S. Just wanted to note that Heidi of Fabric Mutt has a blog hop starting today called “Girl Friday Sews”—all tutorials designed to freshen up your work space. I love stuff like that! Plus there will be giveaways, of course. : ) So head over there to follow along, and come back on Friday for my tutorial for a fabric-covered memo board!

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Little Patchwork Pillowcase

Zakka Style Sew Along

Welcome to this week’s Zakka Sew Along project: the Little Pocket Pillowcase, designed by Meg Spaeth of elsiemarley.com.

Little Pocket Pillowcase

When Lindsey asked me to be part of the Zakka Along, I basically begged her to let me do this project. It has my kids written all over it—they love cute little animals, and they especially love cute little animals that come with their own homes, beds, and/or carrying cases. So, a cute little animal that can be stowed in its own pocket on a cute little pillow? Three-year-old-girl heaven, I’m telling you.

This project is from the book Zakka Style, compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale, so you’ll need the book to make it. Lindsey of LR Stitched has spent the last several months running a sew-along of all the projects in the book, and this post is part of that series. Click here to catch up on all the posts.

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This pillowcase might be more involved than the average Zakka Style project because of the diamond patchwork, but even so, most sewists should be able to make it in a solid evening or two. I used Essex Linen in Putty by Robert Kaufman for the body of my pillowcase, winter-white felted wool for the bear, and an assortment of pink and green scraps for the patchwork.

The first thing to tackle: The diamonds, which are used for the patchwork pocket, the bear’s tummy, and the patchwork piping. The book provides a template for cutting out the diamonds, but that is a lot of template cutting. I found it much easier to cut the diamonds from strips. Here’s how I did it:

1. Cut strips 1 9/16″ wide. Yes, that’s a crazy measurement. No, my ruler doesn’t have 1/16″ marks. I just lined it up between the 1/2″ mark and the 5/8″ mark. Trust me, it’ll work. : )

Patchwork Pillow diamonds

2. Line up the 60-degree mark on your ruler with the bottom of the strip and trim off the end of the strip on an angle.

Patchwork Pillow diamonds

3. Measure 1 7/8″ over and cut another angled line using the 60-degree mark on your ruler. Ta-da, you have a correctly-sized diamond.

The most challenging part of this project for me was the piping on the pillowcase—I’ve never made piping before, so this was all new to me. The book says to use 1/4″ piping cord, but that seemed awfully chunky to me for such a little pillow, so I went with 1/8″. Even the 1/8″ cord seems wide to me, but that might be because I have no idea how to make piping, so I didn’t get the fabric casing very tight around the cord. LOL.

Little Pocket Pillowcase

The bear was very easy to make and turned out so cute. You’ll want to have a chopstick on hand for turning and for jamming stuffing into those little legs and ears.

C and Barry

As you can see, my daughter really loves this bear—she named him “Barry.” (Well, I think she meant “Beary,” but we won’t quibble over spelling.) All in all, this was such a great project! And based on my daughter’s very positive feedback, I recommend it as a gift for the little girl (or boy!) in your life. : )

As part of the Zakka Sew Along, I’m giving away some variety packs of lovely Aurifil thread, which you probably already know is the bomb. Three winners will get an Aurifil thread pack, and one lucky winner will get an Aurifil thread pack and an Aurifil color card! Just leave a comment on this post for a chance to win.

And finally, don’t forget to check out Lindsey’s post for her Zakka Along giveaway—this week, it’s a fat-quarter bundle of the Le Femme line by Robert Kaufman. Plus, link up your own Little Patchwork Pillowcase for a chance to win even more prizes. Enjoy your pillowcase!

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AnneMarie’s Quilt

As you may have already heard, my friend AnneMarie of Gen X Quilters recently added a new member to her family! She had a rough, uncomfortable pregnancy, so Elizabeth, Amy and I decided to get together and surprise her with a little something for the baby. I’m guessing her new little man has plenty of quilts, but you can always use another one made by friends, right? : )

We decided on some basic, bright-colored, fun log-cabin blocks. Each of us made three blocks, and I quilted it.

I put some of my favorite little-boy prints on the back—the brown and blue plaid from Katie Jump Rope, a Pezzy print, and a few others.

I’ve been wanting to improve my straight-line quilting, so I opted for straight lines on the diagonal across the quilt. I recently got a new walking foot that has this quilting guide on it—why didn’t I know about this little doohickey before?? It makes straight-line quilting so much easier, no marking necessary! I just marked the center diagonal and used the guide to work my way out from there. The only problem with using a quilting guide like this is if you get a little crooked or curvy on one line, all the lines after that will be the same, because you’re always using the previous line as your guide. In fact, the flaws might even be magnified as you stitch more and more lines. So I sometimes took the quilt off my machine, laid it out on the floor and inspected my lines. If they were looking a little crazy, I marked the next line in order to straighten things out again. But I only had to do that 3 or 4 times, I’d say.

And it turns out that I really don’t mind straight-line quilting—as long as I don’t have to turn the darn quilt! It’s the turning that I despise. So you may see more edge-to-edge straight-line quilting from me in the future.

Congratulations, AnneMarie, on the addition to your family! Enjoy the quilt!

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Busting Out the Dance Bag

So, this adorable kid has been taking dance classes for the better part of three years now. And I have been intending to make her a dance bag … for the better part of three years now.

This is the dance bag I finally made for her, after all this time. It took me the better part of three hours. Yep, gold-star mom, right here. : )

Anyway, this is from a free tutorial by Simply Modern Mom. I love that it’s a hobo bag, instead of a too-cutesy little tote bag. E. feels pretty stylin’, in fact. The fabric is Peacock Lane, with a Michael Miller Dumb Dot for the lining. You gotta have pink and black for a dance bag, right?

I made a few changes from the tutorial—since I used lightweight quilting cotton, I added some fusible interfacing to the lining. (I hate how fusible interfacing always seems to bubble and wrinkle in the finished product, so my solution was to fuse it to the lining instead of the outer fabric.) I also eliminated the braided handle, and I added a magnetic snap, because I know my daughter, and I know the contents of this bag will just end up on the floor of my SUV without some sort of closure. I used this fab tutorial from Sew Crafty Jess’s blog to put in the snap—magnetic snaps couldn’t be easier! Really!

Edited to add: I’m linking up to TNT Thursday at Happy Quilting and the Threading My Way linky for bags and totes! Great idea, Pam!

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Christmas Swap Round-Up

So how was everybody’s Christmas? Is the whirlwind done at your house? It is for me—we had a lot of fun and the girls looove their gifts, but I can’t say I’m sorry it’s over now. : ) I actually have a few moments to breathe again!

But before we usher in 2012, I need to share a few last swap goodies from 2011. I swore off most traditional swaps a few months ago, because I seem to just spend way too much time on them, but Sukie suckered me in with her Twitter Secret Santa Swap. We weren’t required to send a handmade item, but of course when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist making something. After all, my partner was the amazing Katy of I’m a Ginger Monkey and Fat Quarterly! Send her a secret santa gift that didn’t include something homemade?? As if.

So here’s the gift package I sent to Katy (which she finally received yesterday, so now I can show it to you!) Thangles, a Clover marking pen, some hand-dyed perle cotton, and a FQ from Denyse Schmidt’s Picnic and Fairgrounds line from Joanne’s. (I was thinking those prints may not be available in the U.K.?)

And I made her this mug rug using Badskirt Amy’s x-and-plus tutorial and a newspaper-print fabric. I used wavy-line quilting on it because that’s one of my favorite quilting tricks, and I learned it from Katy! I hope she enjoys it!

 

 

My Secret Santa swap package came from the talented Amy of Stitchery Dickory Dock. Check out the incredible stuff she sent to me: How adorable is this notebook?? I’ve loved this fox paper-piecing pattern for ages and she totally nailed it with the colors and prints.

 

And that’s not all—she also sent me this coffee cup cozy, the travel mug that’s in it, and she filled the mug up with candy! Whew!

I love the cozy’s Half-Moon Modern prints and handstitching. (You can find a Moda Bake Shop tutorial by Amy for this very cozy right here.) And it just so happens that I have another one of these Copco mugs
and it is my absolute favorite, so I’m thrilled to have another one. It fits in my Keurig coffee maker (many travel mugs don’t) and it’s nice and simple, functioning like a basic Starbucks disposable. Except that this one has a reclosable spill-proof lid, which I’ve never seen on a Copco mug, and I couldn’t even find it on Amazon! So yes, I love it—clearly, the fact that I’ve gone on about a mug for an entire paragraph should indicate that I will treasure it forever, LOL. Thanks, Amy, I love it all!

I also swapped recently with Becky from My Fabric Obsession. I designed a new blog header for her and she sent me these fun goodies in return—a Jane Market Bag in Neptune, and some coordinating FQs! You guys—it’s Neptune! I love this collection so much. I bought a layer cake way back when it first came out, but frittered most of it away on some pillows that I didn’t even end up liking (this was back when I still didn’t really know what I was doing). I used most of the remaining scraps in my Single Girl quilt. So I’m super excited to get a second chance with this hard-to-find collection. Now I just need to decide what I’ll do with it! And the bag is so roomy and useful—I’ve already used it probably a dozen times. I even packed some stuff in it when I went out of town for the holidays. Thank you, Becky!!

And here’s one more Christmas present for me (and my girls). I won a giveaway from Kylie of My Addiction to Quilting. She sent me this soccer ball entirely hand-pieced from hexies! The girls love it—it’s so nice to have a ball they can freely chuck at each other, LOL. Kylie also sent some beautiful purple fabrics, and I seem to be eternally short on purple in my stash, so they are much appreciated. Thank you, Kylie—you are so sweet to send these all the way from Australia!

One of my favorite things about having this blog is how I’ve been able to send items all over the country and the world, and receive things right back. Australia, the U.K., Europe, Canada–what a wonderful exchange. Here’s to more swaps in 2012.

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Lego Storage Bag/Playmat

Welcome to my stop on the 12 Gifts of Christmas Blog Hop!

Today I’m showing you how to make a drawstring Lego storage bag that doubles as a playmat. Fun, cute, and useful!

I think Legos strike fear into the hearts of organized moms everywhere. We store ours in a big plastic tub, but a few pieces always seem to disappear when my daughter dumps it out to play. And she hates putting all those pieces back into the tub.
So I went in search of an item my sister had for her Legos 25-plus years ago. It was basically a big circular piece of fabric with a drawstring around the edge. The Legos were stored inside, but when you wanted to play, you could lay the fabric out completely flat and spread out the pieces directly on the fabric. This allowed you to easily find the piece that you wanted—but when it came time to clean up, just pull up the drawstring and you’re done. Genius! Apparently they no longer make this handy contraption, but that’s where a little sewing skills are useful, right? Plus I could make my version a whole lot cuter than the ’70s-looking fake denim I recall my sister’s being made from.This bag spreads out to become a playmat that’s about 50″ wide—a generous size even for the most Lego-obsessed kids. And the bag/playmat combo would be great for other types of toys as well—I’m thinking baby toys, stuffed animals, matchbox cars, or anything with lots of small parts.
You will need:• Approximately 40 pieces of fabric, 4.5″ x 22″ (The 22″ length can include a selvage—the selvages will end up hidden. A fat-eighth bundle would be perfect for this project.)• 9″-10″ square of fabric for the center• Total of 1.75 yards for the back of mat/inside of bag• 1/2″ grommet-setting kit and 20 grommets (don’t be afraid of grommets! They’re so easy!)• 20 – 1.5″ squares of fusible interfacing
• About 14 feet of cotton braided cord (I used 3/16″)• 6 inches of 1″-wide twill tape for the drawstring slider
How to make it:
1. On your 4.5″ x 22″ pieces of fabric, mark the bottom edge 1.75″ from each side, as shown. If you are using a piece with a selvage, make sure to mark the selvage end. 2. Cut the piece on an angle, from one of the marks you just made at the bottom of the rectangle, to the outer corner at the top of the rectangle. Repeat on the other side, cutting from mark to outer corner. If you’re using pre-cut fat quarters or fat eighths, check that the length of your pieces is precisely 22″ before cutting. Length variances can throw off your angles here.

3. You now have a wedge-shaped piece that looks like this. Repeat the first two steps until you have 40 wedges.

4. Sew your wedges together, lining up the tops of the wedges. It doesn’t matter if the bottoms line up. I pressed my seams open.

5. Sew your wedges together in sets of 10. Ten wedges makes a quarter of the circle. Sew the quarters together to create the full circle.

6. When you’re ready to sew the final seam in the circle, stop and lay out your circle so that it’s as flat as you can get it, regardless of whether your final two raw edges match up. If they do match up, congratulations, you are a sewing rockstar! As you can see, mine didn’t come together so well. If you have a gap in your circle when it’s lying as flat as it can be, as I did, that means you probably need to add one more wedge. That’s why I said you would need approximately 40 pieces of fabric for this project. : ) So at this point, I cut and pieced wedge number 41 into the circle.

7. Now that I’ve added another wedge, when my circle is lying as flat as possible, the raw edges actually overlap, especially toward the outside of the circle.

8. To fix that, use the top (overlapping) piece as a guide to cut the bottom piece. Line up your ruler with the edge of the top piece and trim. You can now sew your final seam and you end up with a flat wedge-pieced circle measuring about 50″ across. (By the way, I think this would also be a great way to make a Christmas tree skirt or a quilt.)

9. To create the center, I traced around one of my salad plates, which are about 8.25″ across.

10. Cut out your circle and pin it into place, covering the hole in the middle of the circle as well as any selvages.

11. Applique your center circle by sewing around the edge with a zig-zag stitch.

12. To prepare for setting your grommets, take the 1.5″ squares of interfacing and press them onto the wrong side of the circle. (The interfacing will give your grommet a little more stability.) I placed my interfacing squares in the center of every second wedge piece, with the top edge of the square about 1″ from the raw edge.
13. Now the outside of your bag is looking good, so let’s tackle the lining. Circle measurements require too much math for me, so instead, I laid out the outside of the bag and then laid pieces of fabric over it until I had a design that I liked and the entire outside was covered. Then I sewed all the pieces together and laid out both the outside and the lining again. Using the outside of the bag as my guide, I trimmed the lining into a circular shape, leaving about 1/2″ of extra fabric all the way around.14. Pin around the edges and sew a 1/2″ seam around the perimeter, leaving an opening about 5″ wide for turning. Trim excess seam allowance.

15. Turn your circle right side out and press.

16. Top stitch around the outside of the circle. I stitched 1/4″ from the edge and about 2″ from the edge. I used the top stitching to close up the opening I left for turning.

17. Now you need to cut the holes for your grommets. I know, this part is scary. If you screw up, you could be ruining the whole project. But no pressure! I promise you can do it! : ) Feel each wedge to find the ones with the interfacing that you added before turning. On each wedge with interfacing, mark the center of the wedge about 1.5″ from the top. Then cut a small “X” into all three layers of fabric (outside, lining, and interfacing). I did this by pinching a small fold right where I wanted the X, and then clipping a V, which turned into an X when unfolded again. Finally, to clean things up a bit, snip off the points that you created.

Adding the Grommets and Finishing the Bag

1. First, don’t buy the Dritz grommet-setting kit that’s available at Joann. I started with that one, but the plastic setting tools are so cheap and poorly made, they only lasted for six grommets. Buy your grommet kit from a hardware store instead. I got this kit from my local Ace—it was only $1 more than the kit from Joann and it works way better. (My kit came with brass grommets, but I also found satin nickel refill grommets and used those instead.)

2. A grommet kit has four basic parts: The anvil, the setting tool, the grommet barrel, and the washer. The washers sometimes have pointy teeth on one side to grab the fabric you’re setting the grommet into.

3. To set the grommet, position the barrel piece on the anvil with the barrel sticking up, and put the X-shaped hole in your fabric over the barrel of the grommet, as shown.

4. Put the washer over the barrel and the fabric, as shown, teeth pointing down.

5. Put the setting tool on top of it all and use a hammer to wail on that bad boy until it flattens out and becomes attached to the fabric. You may have to put some arm into it—I don’t recommend trying this during nap time. : ) Also, be sure you are doing this step on a very hard surface—like concrete or a work bench. I don’t want to be responsible for any maimed dining room tables.

6. That’s it—you’ve just installed a lovely, professional-looking grommet.

7. Add the braided cord, lacing it in and out of the grommets around the perimeter of the circle. Knot the ends of the cord. Take your twill tape and wrap it in a figure 8 around the two ends of the cord, just above the knots. Sew down the middle of the figure 8 to create a drawstring slider. And you’re done! You now have a Lego keeper that turns into a handy playmat while the Legos are in use.

Giveaway!

The giveaway is now closed.

Thank you to the Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring the giveaway. Another big thanks goes out to Jennifer of Ellison Lane Quilts for hosting this blog hop and including me in it! Don’t forget to visit all of the other bloggers for own their gift tutorials and giveaways—the schedule is below.
Friday, October 14- Jennifer @ Ellison Lane Quilts
Saturday, October 15- Ayumi/Pink Penguin
Sunday, October 16- Amy/ Lots of Pink Here
Monday, October 17- Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts
Tuesday, October 18- Penny/Sew Take a Hike
Wednesday, October 19- Kati/From the Blue Chair
Thursday, October 20- Lee/Freshly Pieced
Friday, October 21- Elizabeth/Don’t Call Me Betsy
Saturday, October 22- Melanie/Texas Freckles
Sunday, October 23- Lindsay/Craft Buds
Monday, October 24- Amanda/A Crafty Fox
Tuesday, October 25-Vanessa/Little Big Girl Studio