Monday, September 26, 2011

To and from Rachel

I'm pretty sure you all know Rachel, right? If you don't, take a minute to go check her out. She's the mastermind behind do.Good Stitches, Bottled Rainbows, and more recently, Celebrate Color. She's so creative, sweet and just a lovely person!

Rachel and I were chatting about Sewing Summit several weeks ago, and after hearing Jeni's plan to make a Simplicity duffel bag (pattern 2274), we decided to do a swap. I made her a bag and she made me one. There were moments I questioned my sanity. Like when my needle continuously fell out of the machine. I honestly don't know why. Oh, yeah. Maybe because I was sewing through burlap webbing, batted layers, etc. Yeah, maybe that's why. So, a quick trip to Joann's for some heavy duty needles fixed that problem!

Rachel's Bag

This pattern is not complicated, it just takes time (and patience) to construct. I chose straight line quilting for the body of the bag and sides. I thought it would look nicer with the fabric, and I hope Rachel thinks so, too.

There are three awesome things about a swap like this.

One, I would probably never ever make myself such an elaborate bag. I have a perfectly good duffel bag that I've had since like, 1992. It has few scuffs, wear and tear, but it does the job. Laziness often wins when you're crafting for yourself (gifts are an entirely different story!). I wasn't really drawn to the pattern, but after seeing Jeni's awesome FFA II version, well, I was sold.

Front view

Two, I get to step out my comfort zone and work with a fabric palette catered to the Rachel. We chatted about desired colors and patterns, but she didn't know my final fabric choices and vice versa. It can definitely be intimidating (and I definitely had a few self-critical moments of worry), but it's so much fun to plan a project with someone else in mind.

I'm feeling pretty proud to have this bag finished, and I hope Rachel will enjoy using it.

Detail of Rachel's bag

I used Joel Dewberry's Ginseng home decor fabric, and the interior (as well as the zipper tabs) is Alexander Henry's Heath in Chocolate (also home decor weight). The bag has one side pocket with a zipper and a front pocket. Speaking of zippers, I used my zipper foot for the first time. I've always just stuck with my regular foot, but the specialty foot was pretty fun to use. I'll definitely do that again. Also, any sewing on more than one piece required the walking foot (so much thickness).

I really love the mix of fabrics. I hope it's not too busy for Rachel, but I thought a little variety would work well on such a big bag.

From Rachel

And finally, in return for my hard work, I get to enjoy the fruits of Rachel's labor on my new bag. Every time I look at it and use it, I'll think about our fun swap.

Look at the hand-stitching! So sweet. And the fabrics Rachel used are so much fun.

A colorful package

Thank you again, Rachel! I can't wait to meet you in person!!


  1. what a cool swap! i love both bags. i bought that pattern when it was on sale but i have yet to even open it up yet. it is so true about having to find motivation to craft for yourself.

  2. Exactly. I know I would not have taken the time to make myself this bag (let alone in time for The Sewing Summit). It has been such a treat to get to know you, Jacey, and I LOVE the bag! Yours looks right at home with your kitty =)

  3. Two very lucky ladies! Enjoy the Summit . . . wish I'd be there to meet you both!

  4. What gorgeous bags! So neat to do an exchange like that.

  5. Oh I have bag envy and can't wait to see them and you both in person!! I am trying to squeeze a bag in to replace one I have worn out hopefully I'll have it done in time. I love the swaps that quilters do it really shows the generous spirit of our community!

  6. Both bags are totally swap- and swoon-worthy.

  7. what a fun fun swap! how fun that you both get a bag that is made with love. those are the best kinds! i love both of them so much! i wish i was going to summit! i am a bit jealous. olias looks like he likes the bag too!

  8. What beautiful bags! And I love your insight about making gifts for others - it's so true! I shy away from swaps for that very reason!

  9. both so great! I'm totally jealous that you get to meet Rachel and everyone else and that they get to meet you. (Pout) Maybe next year!

  10. I love it! It's gorgeous. The fabrics are fantastic. And you are so right - why do we get so lazy making things for ourselves??

  11. Love the bag you made! The colors in that line are fantastic! This was so fun that you two swapped! :)

    I think someone should invent a walking zipper foot! Now that would really make life easier! ;)

  12. Both of your bags are so great! I hope you have the greatest time at the Sewing Summit! Be sure to document it well for those of us (me) who can't go this year. Maybe next year!

  13. I first fell in love with Jeni's baby. Now I've fallen in love with these two. I want one! :)

  14. what a great swap!! the bags are both amazing, and I love your initials on yours!

  15. Both bags are so beautiful!! I admit I picked up this pattern recently but am totally scared of it, lol.

    You guys are going to have an amazing time at Summit!!

  16. those bags are gorgeous! you guys are both super talented.

  17. Wow, awesome bag(s)! That gives me some great ideas for gifts this year...thanks!

  18. Wow, both bags are absolutely stunning! And that was a perfect pattern for a swap. I love how the gift aspect of the project motivated you to keep going. That's how I'm planning to get through a knitted toy pattern for my rav swap.


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