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So, I was trying to think of what to do next with my sewing student. Looking over some patterns with her, we decided to try doing a quilted tote bag. The pattern I showed her comes from McCall’s, a free pattern for flying geese done in a “no waste” method. Looking at the technique, I decided it was something she and I could both do. As I’ve never made flying geese because I struggled with all the triangles (and the wasted fabric), it sounded great.  Click on this link to see the original tote pattern if you are curious.

Since I hadn’t done anything like this before, I decided to try it first before her next session. I started cutting fabrics according to the instructions, for the front and back of the tote (different size geese on each side). I decided pretty quickly I liked the piecing of the “back” better than I did the “front”:


Layout for the “back” of the tote

ImageLayout for the “front” of the tote

After much fussing around, I finished both front and back. And discovered this tote is gonna be huge:


Finished front (left) and back of tote, sides overlapped to fit on table

This girl is not that big, and I’m really afraid this bag would just be too oversized for her to carry!  So, it was time to adjust the project.

I decided I liked the bigger geese, but didn’t want them that big. I also liked the sashing between the rows of smaller geese, as that would be much easier for my student to sew successfully than to try matching seams correctly (it’s hard enough with squares, triangles make it that much harder). But size is still an issue. So, I shrunk the square templates for the geese to 80% of the original size, making them slightly larger than the original small geese. I kept the sashing, but added the sashing to top and bottom like on the original back. This is what I ended up with after all that fiddling:


Much better! Now, to write down exactly how I made this…

I’m much happier with this size tote. Having gotten this far, I can set it aside knowing that the rest is something we’ve done before (quilting the front and back with batting, sewing a lining, adding the handles, etc.). Both front and back will be the same pattern, in my case using the same colors of geese. At some point I’ll finish the original tote but for now it’s in the WIP/UFO category.

Oh, I did want to add one more thing. I’m not one to buy all kinds of gadgets and gizmos for sewing. I have a few different sizes of rulers for the basics, I buy ponytail holders for my bobbins instead of the more expensive options, and I use chocolate tins for my pins. But I found one “gadget” that I’m definitely putting on my must-have list now: InvisiGrip, made by Omnigrid. I had seen it in stores for years, and always contemplated trying it, but didn’t think I needed it. Then, over the last year, I’ve noticed I have had problems holding my ruler steady when using my rotary cutter. The ruler would keep slipping as I neared the end of the cut, and I was getting frustrated. I saw the InvisiGrip on sale at a LQS that was closing and figured it was as good a time as any to try it. And now I’m saying, I was an idiot not to buy it sooner! Cutting the strips for this project has been so much nicer with it on my rulers! I only bought one pack, which was enough for my two long rulers (24″ long x 6″ or 6 1/2″ wide), my smallish ruler (9 1/2″ long), and a bit left (haven’t checked to see if the remainder will be enough for one of my 3 squares). So I’ll be on the look-out for it on my next trip to a fabric store. It’s definitely worth the price to reduce slipping! (And, for the record, this is NOT a paid endorsement; I just can’t believe I waited this long to try it, and want to help others who are on the fence like I was.)