Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sharing the Journey

This past weekend I attended a Women's Retreat with Calvary Houston. We stayed on Galveston Island. The last morning of the retreat I managed to get up for an early walk on the beach before breakfast...needless to say, it was refreshing!

Not only was the weekend a wonderful time for me to rest, reflect, and grow in my walk with God, but it was a true blessing to be among some wonderful ladies I call friends.

Truth be told, my girlfriends are very gentle, but I couldn't resist bragging on Texas Women - we practice tough love down here!

Here's the gals I hang out with this weekend...

Yes, it was a black and white weekend for me (makes it easier to pack, choosing one color for tops means only one pair of shoes to pack, and of course jeans go with everything!) ...ended up matching several of the ladies in our color choices - little did we know that was the color theme for the weekend too! Sorta the way the teaching went too, very black and white when you study scriptures...

The topic of study was based on Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruit of the Spirit. Our study was titled God's Culinary Delights (you can go to the website and request CD's of the weekend's teaching). Have to admit that a 'cooking theme' scared me since I'm not known for my culinary delights...however, I knew it was going to be a good study and very applicable to me when the introduction included this verse:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

Just days before this retreat one of my girlfriends came over to visit while I was working on the pinwheel blocks ...she reminded me that when she first met me as her quilt teacher that I was always saying how our quilting should be freeing and not it was my joy...and we commented how my joy seemed to be lacking lately... hum... yep... my first clue that this weekend was going to speak to my heart...I needed to be untangled from the yoke of bondage...

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Abide means to stay in a relationship, to be comfortable in that relationship, and to be a partner in the relationship. We can lose our joy if we aren't connected as we should be to Christ, we can't produce fruit on our own, we must abide. Did you catch that? We don't have anything to do in the production of the fruit, our only job is to abide. Fruit is the natural outcome of this relationship with Christ.

Chuck Smith makes this comment in the note section of The Word for Today Bible: If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, these are the characteristics that will begin to mark your life. There are not really nine fruits of the Spirit. There is only one fruit of the Spirit, and that is love! But this kind of love is not the Greek "eros", or the Greek "phileo". It is the word "agape" which is used in the New Testament to describe a depth of love beyond man's capacity - a love marked by joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Each of these characteristics of love, what we commonly call the fruits of the Spirit, were topics of teachings at the retreat....I will share a little of my notes...what I refer to as part of my week's journey that truly I want to incorporate in my life's journey...

Love: This is My commandment, that you love one another a I have loved you. John 15:12

Agape love is the only love that thinks of the good of others, there is no "give and take" with this type of love, it only gives. This love is not based on emotion or passion, its a matter of will, a decision - you have to choose to love, it's actions that change feelings. Biblical love knows what is right and wrong, it brings together heart and mind, it's love controlled by the Word of God. The more you love, the more you love to love, you have to exercise love even loving your enemies. This love is loving Him more than loving self, and loving others more than self. Life is measured by what you love the most. This type of love isn't 'on the side' like dressing 'on the side', it's a drenching sort of love (like dressing totally drenching a salad) that permeates your life. If we walk in the Spirit then we won't fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16). He who does not love doesn't know God because God is love (1 John 4:7-8)

Joy: These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

Joy is contentment that flows from within due to the presence of God in your life. It's confidence built on that relationship, it's responding to what you know to be right and true, now matter the circumstance. Even in the normal experience of every human emotion, including sorrow, there can be rejoicing. Joy is a supernatural byproduct of a Spirit led life for a believer. However, joy does not come automatically, as the Holy Spirit will not by-pass your will, you must choose joy. You can have joy because of who God is, what He has done for you, and what He will do in your life. Even when it seems needs aren't met there's a purpose (so He can draw you closer to depend upon Him) As a result of choosing joy no matter what is happening in your life you can rejoice in knowing God is working all things out toward your good.

There are several things that cripple joy..disobedience for one. Joy can be restored with simple repentance. Unbelief cripples joy - if you have been taught the scriptures and chose not to believe them or have doubt your joy is robbed. Discontentment will kill joy, you will never have enough. False expectations cripple joy - when YOUR plans don't go right this steals your joy. Selfishness, self-pity, self-annalist, any of the "self" words diminish joy as they are all rooted in pride. Emotions, being victimized by feelings, will steal joy. Feelings can be controlled, they can't be allowed to govern your life. Weak people listen to themselves, strong people talk to themselves - "self, this is stupid" - we are to take our thoughts captive and stand on the truth of the Word.

Joy is the result of knowledge of the truth. When joy is chosen it is visible, desirable and a testimony.

Peace: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. John 16:33a

Our nation is stressed, depressed, and anxious - why? because we lack peace. Three different types of peace:

(1) peace with God Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ Rom 5:1 An unbeliever is at war with God, they are His enemy. God's wrath is satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ, this gives us peace with God. Peace with God means He's on your side.

(2) personal peace And the peace of God which surpasses all understand will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus Philippians 4:7 Our challenge is to trust Him when we face difficulties. We are to give our requests to God and leave the outcome to Him to handle HIS way. The situation may or may not change but His peace will be with you.

(3) peace with others Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. if it is possible, as much depends on you, live peaceably will all men. Romans 12:17-18. Recognize that the cause of conflict lies partly with you. Take the first step to resolve conflict with others. Unresolved conflict is sin. Don't look for justice, repay evil with good, don't choose conflict, let God deal with the sin. Realize that God allows everything that comes into your life as a way of teaching you something.

Warren Wiersbe: A Christian who walks in love is always experiencing some new joy because the "fruit of the Spirit" is love and joy and when we blend "love" and "joy" we have "peace"

There's more I will share another day...I hope these shared thoughts will challenge you to take a fresh look at the fruit of the Spirit...

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reading Between the Lines of the To Do List

The "to do list". I don't know about yours but mine seems to be ever growing, endless, equally frustrating as well as equally fulfilling. I carry it around on my phone, on my calendar, in my mind. Always thinking about my to do list.

Somewhere along the line I developed the mindset that every day must be productive or I would be considered lazy. There are so many opportunities that beckon my attention - good things that perhaps benefit others, necessary things to keep life functioning properly (like laundry), activities that perhaps selfishly benefit my business, social or spiritual life. Lots of choices.

Recently on my "to do list" or calendar were two quilting 'social' activities. One being the Island Quilters Guild meeting in Galveston. I enjoy gathering with like minded folks and talking about quilts. I've always said that my favorite part is show and tell. Every now and then I have a quilt to share....

Here I'm pointing out my butterfly logo located on the map where I live, between Houston and Galveston. I was sharing that this quilted map hang in the A-1 booth recently in Dallas and I used it as a cheat sheet to help with my geography when a customer would tell me where they were from - I'd ask them to point it out on the map....

What I really enjoy is looking at other's show and tell...always amazed at the creativity of what others are doing, love to see their color choices, their pattern layout, and how the quilt was quilted. This particular quilt was inspiring. The blocks were a part of a block exchange among several members of the guild (unfortunately I wasn't one of them). I have always loved pinwheels, and seeing this quilt set in a beautiful purple was just over the top wonderful to me!

"attend guild meeting" Check.

Next on the "to do list" was teaching a Square in a Square class at Catcus Quilts in Texas City. This was an advanced technique class and each of the ladies have now been trained in Options 1-17 of the Square in a Square technique (for more info on this check out Square in a Square). We had a fun class, lots of sewing but more important talking and laughing. A great social outing that was also productive.

"teach SnS class" Check.

The to do list was being checked off as new things were being added. Isn't this what we are suppose to do? Be organized, be scheduled, fill our lives with lots and lots of activities, get a lot out of every day? Certainly productive!

Then it dawned on me yesterday coming home from worship. Life isn't a to do list. I'm going through the motions, checking things off, thinking about what's next, reworking that list, always always thinking of what I have to finish so I can get to what I have to do next. Wait a minute. I'm not really living. I'm missing out on the moments. I heard a phrase yesterday on the radio, in fact I think it's the name of someone's new album or something..."life isn't a snapshot" ... now I don't know what meaning that phrase has to them, but gee, I'm always taking photos and trying to "document" my life as if that gives it more meaning, more much as I enjoy rambling and sharing, that can't be my purpose. Nor is it to have bigger and brighter piles of quilts -although I really love looking at my top shelf in the studio with all the quilts folded as a testimony to my accomplishments - that's not my purpose in life, it can't be. It's a pleasure for me, but there's more to life than stacking up accomplishments and checked off to do lists.

The other day I was in a gift shop on the Kemah Boardwalk looking for a gift for my mother's birthday. At the checkout counter was a little display full of little metal seashells. I'm naturally drawn to anything beachie so I took a second glance and noticed that on each shell there were words etched such as inspire, believe, etc. Then I found the one that spoke to me. Balance. Wow. I'm missing out on that. For a few extra dollars above my gift purchase that little seashell went home with me. I need to be balanced.

Time to enjoy the moments. Time to take time off from the to do list and do something unplanned, something inspired. What's really neat is when that translates to something creative, and even useful - like a new personal quilt...

Sunday afternoon I did just that. I decided that I really really liked the purple pinwheel quilt that my fellow guild member made and I wanted to make one too. The joy was working through my own scraps and making pinwheels that had meaning and purpose to me. I didn't want to totally copy her quilt, and although I have really loved purple these past 10 years I'm sorta moving into a new color, or adding a new color, hot pink! I was going to call this Playful Pinwheels but decided that it's a new decade and along with HOT pink being added to my life there's a new season of personal summers so I'm going to call this Hot Flash (giggle) as I wish at times I had all the fan movement of these pinwheels!

I made over 50 eight inch blocks yesterday afternoon and was blessed with a friend coming over to visit with me while I sewed. She even pressed a few blocks and helped me put them up on the design wall. The blocks will be tucked away for another day, but the thoughts shared with this friend I hope will stay with me as they were profound and encouraging..

We were talking about this very subject of the to do list, balance, life's ups and downs and she shared with me what she'd learned about worry -- that worrying about something is really a control issue...

For example, she shared that she was waiting on her income tax return because there were some bills that needed to be paid and this check was the source that would relive these burdens of debt. She had been given the estimate that the check should be received on Friday and worried all day waiting on the mail...when it didn't come she worried about the overdue bills. Her husband said "worrying doesn't change anything, it's in God's hands". Simple. True. He then shared that her worrying about it was as if she could control the outcome. many times have I worried and fretted over something I have absolutely no control over, as if my worrying would change the fact that I could have control, and if I had control then I could fix it. I'd never thought of worry as a control issue. No new revelation that I'm a control freak, but didn't realize to what degree. I need to recognize the fact that many many things are out of my control, that I can only do what I can do, and that sometimes the to do list is just that, a list, not a mandate of what I have to do - just things that I'd like to do or need to do. I also have to realize that I can't control other people - how they will react, if they will like me or like my quilting or whatever, that all I can do is all I can do - trying to second guess what others want me to do or trying to do everything to please others is tiring. All I can do is the best that I can do. Worrying about what other's think is something that I now recognize is out of my control....what I can do is recognize that I need to take time to balance and balance means taking a moment to live. Enjoy the moments, not rushing to the next item on the to do list. A time to smell the roses....

For some reason I've been taking a lot of flower photos lately. Perhaps it was because I was rushing by so quickly and wanted to savor the moment later by reviewing the photos... perhaps a little part of me was reaching out for recognition that I must stop and smell the roses, that I need this time to reflect on God's beauty, time to be renewed and refreshed.... Here's a sample of the photos I've been collecting this past week...

Life isn't a to do list. It's not accomplishments that will long fade after I'm gone, it's not even the quilts that will be inherited (grin). It's about taking a deep breath and recognizing that God has blessed me by placing me in the middle of His beautiful creation. That He has a plan and purpose for me, and sometimes that's only revealed one day at a time - verses thinking it has to be a big grand and glorious accomplishment that will be recorded in history (grin). It's more of a "what can I do today that will glorify His name?" It is being faithful in the little things such as fulfilling my obligations on my to do list like keeping my word to show up for an appointment (on time) or it could be more about the people factor of those appointments, sharing an encouraging word to someone I encounter along the way? Both perhaps. Each day brings new opportunities. The key is to not place the focus on the to do list, but instead place the focus on balance and embrace life by reading between the lines of the to do list. And taking time to rest. That part has been missing for a long time. (maybe I should add that to the to do list!)

"Be Still and Know" that He is God!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Attaching Zippers to Longarm Leaders

***please note - while the information contained in this post is still useful I no longer carry zippers for longarms. Unfortunately I do not have a referral source. Karen 3.1.16***

This Sunday afternoon was my designated day to straighten my take up leaders on my A1 Quilting Machine and add zippers, as it's technically 'my day off' and the only day the frame wasn't loaded with a quilt (grin). So naturally I decided that I really should do a documentation of my actions, who knows who it might benefit!

I've given you a very wordy description of what I did and at the end of this ramble a very amateur video actually showing what I'm trying to hopefully the combination of pictures, words, and voice visual will be beneficial. At least I tried (grin).

For the record, my machine is almost 5 years old. I originally had a set of zippers attached to my leaders (that I'd done, but not as neatly as this go-around), but opted to remove them after the Houston Quilt Festival for the latest craze of Velcro leaders.

Hum. Honestly, I hated the Velcro.

Wasted time, wasted money. Lesson learned.

First of all, it was a unnecessary adjustment to my machine - somehow I forgot the simple truth of if it's not broke don't fix it! . One reason I don't like Velcro is that it's always wadding up and getting stuck on something other than what I wanted it to stick to. I know I know, there's the argument that you can make adjustments to make sure your quilt is lined up, but I have decided that the best way to line things up is to have the accuracy of the teeth of the zipper matching one side to the other, besides, zipping up is quicker than trying to fussy place the Velcro to match...anyway, these are just a few of my reasons for wanting to go back to if you are considering zippers here's a tutorial of how I put mine on this afternoon. Can't say I'm an expert, but I've done it twice now and this time was easier, better, and it's staying put! I'm sold on zippered leaders.

If you have a longarm then you are aware that most machines have three take up rollers with attached canvas leaders. (If you don't have one you probably won't make it to the end of this post...however, for grins you might like to watch the video). Generally we pin the quilt backing to two of the rollers and pin the bottom of the quilt top to the third (or some prefer not to use this third roller and do a "full float" - but that's a topic for debate another day)....the reason for zippered leaders are numerous, but most like the convenience of being able to remove a quilt without having to unpin and then being able to return that same quilt back to the frame again without having to repin, thus saving countless hours...why would you remove a quilt? perhaps you are working on one that demands a lot of time consuming custom work and you want to squeeze in a quick baby quilt so you remove the one to add the other, or perhaps you had a major boo-boo and need to do a lot of frogging (rip it rip it), much easier to take off the frame and sit on the couch for this task...more than likely it's just the convenience of having another quilt prepared and ready to zip on when the first one comes off - some like to pin, others like to baste with their domestic machines or even a Cover Pro machine (I purchased one at Festival and have good intentions of learning to use this! I've been promised a lesson with a friend I hope to visit next month - so watch for this rambling). However you like to do it, you've got to have the zippers attached to your canvas leaders and for the most part, this task of installing is up to you, the machine owner as I'm not aware of any quilting machine manufacturer that offers zippered leaders..

Okay, so on with the instructions! First of all I cut off the offending Velcro - literally just cut my canvas and started over. I'd dare say this won't be your first step (grin) but the next part is important. Take a look at the top photo, you will notice that I have pinned a small width of 108" fabric between my backing take up rollers - I call them the top backing leader and bottom backing leader. If your canvas leaders are somewhat stretched now is a good time to take a spray bottle with a little distilled water and lightly mist the canvas. Let it dry while you finish reading my ramble, this will help draw the stretched canvas back into shape. After it's dry you are ready to jump right in and follow this tutorial.

Once the fabric is pinned between the two backing leaders tighten the tension like you would on a real quilt back, with the exception of placement. Notice in the photo below that I have my A1 Quilting Machine pushed away from the fabric as far as it will go (bumping up against the table stop). Line this area up to the edge of the exposed canvas being careful NOT to hit the pins.

This is how I cheat the system and create my own accurate "channel lock". I will now stitch a straight line across the bottom backing leader, pressing my machine back against the roller to force an accurate straight line.

Once I did that I found my dad's tape measure, ya'know, the metal type that is used in woodworking, and found the exact center of my roller (I have a 12 foot table with 11 foot of canvas on the roller, so my center was at 70 inches) I then used a sharpie to mark my center.

Now it's time to sew on the zipper for this side.

Side note here, the set of zippers for my leaders included three male sides of the zipper (sides with the pull tab) and 6 female sides of the zippers (sides without the pull tab) - this gives me 3 to attach to the canvas and the other 6 to use to attach to my quilt backing (2) and top (1) making two sets to be able to alternate quilts. I will be offering zipper sets for sale in the up coming weeks, if interested see my email address below. Your set may include 3 males and 6 females OR 3 females and 6 males...I know this sounds goofy, but think about it - 6 full sets of zippers are split to accommodate 2 machines. It's more economical -Trust me on this one. If you purchase from another supplier I have no idea what you'll get (grin) so follow their instructions.

Okay, so determine which way your set is, more males or more females. The easiest way to do this is to zip up three sets and the left over three sides will be your additional sides to pin a second quilt to. Set these aside right now so you don't get confused. Which ever side you have three of will be the side sewn to the canvas.

Here's another free suggestion (grin) on the zipper sides that I have 6 of (the ones I will be pinning or basting to in the future) I added a small muslin flap to be able to have something to pin to. You will see this in the following photos as I have written on them "top backing" and "bottom backing" so I'd know how to load the quilt. True confessions, I only did this for one set and have good intentions of doing this for the second. The third zipper that I used for the quilt top I marked in one inch increments to aide in centering the quilt top...but again, good intentions of adding a small muslin flap to aid in the basting I hope to do with my Cover Pro. For the record, I've pinned on the edge of the zipper for a number of years and haven't worn it out yet, so you don't have to add a fabric edge if you don't want to.

Regardless of your decision to add a fabric extension or to mark your own measuring tape right on the side of the zipper you must determine and some how mark for reference which side of the zipper will be sewn on the canvas leader and which side will be the removable side for pinning/basting the quilt.

These photos are of the top take up leader canvas, you can see where the fabric extension is going toward the black fabric pinned between the leaders - think of this as your quilt. You must stitch the zipper where it will separate on the proper side for future pinning/basting.

This step is really very simple. Mark the center of the zipper and match to the center of the leader canvas. Position the zipper to where your sewing line will be the same straight line you stitched in the earlier section. Using the same method of pushing the machine back as far as it will go to force that straight line, stitch from the center out using your hoping foot as a guide against the zipper teeth.

Above I've lifted up the zipper set to show you how I am indeed stitching right over that earlier line. This is what will give you a straight zippered leaders which is what we all desire to have straight finished quilts.

Once I completed sewing from the center to one side I repeated and went from the center to the other side. Be forewarned, the end of the canvas is sorta tricky and may not end up being professionally neat, but it'll figure out what I'm talking about as you do this, for one thing, the machine will not be able to go the full length because it just can't (grin) BUT you can move the canvas and zipper to go to the needle where the needle can't go to it. Trust me, it makes sense when you do this. Again, the last few inches aren't going to be perfect, so just be humble and accept this.

The photo above shows how the zipper set looks once you lift it up to see what's under it. Yep, there's leftover canvas and those pins. The pins will come out later, of course, and you will be left with this raw edge. We'll talk about that a little later so hold on.

Now it's time to advance our fabric and canvas leader to the area where the bottom backing leader is in a position to repeat the process of creating a "channel lock" with the machine pushed all the way against the top bar and making a straight line across the entire length of the canvas.

Sorta see one, do one (grin) You are simply doing the same thing - but notice that your zipper teeth will be different - you must make sure that your free side, or the side that you will be pinning/basting to, is towards the fabric in the center.

Match the centers and repeat the process of sewing on the zipper along the straight edge previously created.

Okay, I might add here the notes I made on my muslin flap -- I wanted to make sure when I'm pinning/basting the quilt back that I know which zipper goes where. I have also marked the center so that when zipped together I know that my fabric is indeed centered on the frame - something that I found to be a purer center with the zippered leaders vs the Velcro leaders - at least it worked the best for me. On my second set of zippers I will actually zip them on and mark against the stationary side and label as which one they are (top backing, bottom backing, quilt top bottom) so that I will consistently use the right zippers for the right position. Just a safe guard in making sure everything lines up as it should.

Okay, so away we go. Place the zipper set on the canvas matching centers and stitch from the center to one side, then from the center to the other side, getting creative on those last few inches (grin)

Remember I mentioned those raw edges on the back side? Well, if they bother you, you can either trim them with pinking shears or actually fold under and hem which is a lot of trouble but can be done - I suggest if you want to do this that you enlist a friend to help you sew...I've done this before, used my extended base, folded the canvas under, put my needle in the down position, sat at the front of the machine using both hands and having my friend 'drive' the machine from the other side stopping and starting for me to reposition the fabric and my hands - way too much trouble if you ask me! So this time around I'm just ignoring them - they won't inhibit the fabric of either my quilt backing or top since these will be pinned to the further most side. To some this may seem unfinished or unprofessional, but to me, this is just another tool that aides in my work, it doesn't have to be pretty or perfect. The choice is certainly yours.

Okay. So now you have two out of three zippers put on. Pat yourself on the back! It wasn't that hard now was it? To do the third zipper on the quilt top take up roller you will need to unpin the backing bottom take up roller and repin the fabric to the quilt top take up roller. You will be doing the same process of stitching a straight line then positioning your zipper and stitching from center to side, then center to other side. Ta-da - that's all there is to doing it the way I did today!

Here's the home made video to share more details with you. Again, forgive the boo-boos, I can't edit video (heck, I'm lucky to just know how to do it considering it's not done on a real video camera). If you think this is goofy you should see the bloopers!

Again, I will be making zipper sets available for sale in the near future so if you are interested you may contact me at for pricing information.

2/28/11 Be sure to read "part two" on loading a quilt with zippered leaders - you will see the new fabric attachments I made for the zippers as well as how to pin or baste the quilt.

8/11 Zippers are in! Available for 10 foot tables and 12 foot tables in a beautiful PURPLE! Visit my website and "contact us"

***please note - while the information contained in this post is still useful I no longer carry zippers for longarms. Unfortunately I do not have a referral source. Karen 3.1.16***

Friday, April 2, 2010

Current Confessions of a Bag Lady - plus tutorial!

True confessions. My bags have bags!
I have this thing for bags, or maybe it's the need to feel organized? Whatever, it translates into a lot of fun looking for bag patterns, shopping for bags (as in my recent adventure on our cruise in February), and ultimately making bags.

The colorful stripe bag in the left center is an eyeglass case I picked up in Mexico, the other little bags were made from quilted scraps left over from bigger bags! I don't think I can ever have enough bags.

A weekend or so ago I made the bag on the right and liked it so much that I thought I needed to make another one after dinner last night - don't you just love the jellybean fabric? Just in time for Easter! The pattern is called Princess Bag and its from the book Easy to Make Totes With Zippers by Cindy Taylor Oates.

Well, I had some fabric left over... and about that time I get a phone call from my girlfriend Pam in Tennessee so I'm telling her all about the new bags and decided that I'd just sew a new little bag to hold my lipstick and such, telling her that I could do a little bag in 5 minutes or less. She didn't believe me so I said "time me" and I sewed while we talked (bluetooths are wonderful inventions). And ta-da - my 5 minutes or less little bag was actually 4 minutes. Needless to say she was impressed and I sent her this photo to prove it (grin).

Little bags are like sour cream and onion potato chips, you can't have just one. Even though it was late in the evening I was in the mood to make little bags!

Remember the Amy Butler Carry All bag I made earlier this year? I've been intending to make little bags for my toiletries and just haven't had the time.....Now was the time!

And yes, they all fit inside the bigger bag!

Okay, I know you are thinking - what in the world could this crazy woman be containing in all those little bags? Another true confession - I'm a sucker for sample size bottles! And since I go on so many road trips I've discovered that it's really nice to have all my items prepacked so I don't forget anything, then all I have to add is my makeup and a hairdryer and I'm good to go (although I have been told that all you really need is a toothbrush!) My idea was to compartmentalize my items, you know - toothbrush, toothpaste, floss in one bag; shampoo, body wash, razor in another bag and so forth.

I decided to take photos of the process and turn it into a tutorial of how I make little bags. Sometimes I make a certain size based on what I want to put into it, other times the size of the scrap of fabric determines the bag size. Doesn't matter, something will always fit inside so there's never a bag too little or too big! You can use a single fabric, quilted fabric, or even get fancy and line the bags (to do this you would use two fabrics wrong sides together, then treat as a single unit following the same directions).

For example, I wanted a bag to hold my body spray and lotion. Of course I couldn't have just one set, after all, until I wake up how will I know if I'm in the mood for Bath & Body Works' Coconut Lime or Victoria Secret's Love Spell (here I used those empty travel bottles that you can get at Wal-Mart or Target and filled up with my favorite fragrance). Oh, and for the record, I put the matching body washes in the 'shower bag' - the one holding the shampoo and the travel size sponge puff...

Okay, so once you determine the size (fabric folded at the bottom) you then go to your zipper stash and find a zipper. Notice that I'm not concerned with the size - in fact, I've found that it's better to be bigger...and the nylon or plastic teeth are easier to work with than the metal ones. Color doesn't matter either as these are just little fun bags. Use whatever scraps and whatever zippers you have.

Now I'm going to show you the fast and furious way of sewing these little bags -- trust me, it's going to take longer to read this than it is to do it!

Using a zipper foot, center the zipper tab side down over the right side of the fabric - you do want the ends of the zipper to come off the edge of the fabric if possible, it makes it easier in a later step...

With the edges flush (right sides together as described) use your zipper foot to sew down one edge. Then open it up and finger press the fabric away from the teeth of the zipper and top stitch.

Now you are ready for the second side of the zipper. Can you see how I have the bag folded over to expose the right side of the other side? I'm going to match up my fabric to make sure it's straight on the sides then place the zipper pull side down on the fabric as previously done on the first side.
Then I'm ready to stitch down that side of the zipper.

Once complete it's time to top stitch this side. This is where it comes in handy if the zipper is longer than the bag because you need to open it up to be able to top stitch and if the zipper is longer then the pull tab is out of the way of the zipper foot and you have a prettier top stitch. If your zipper is the same length as your bag you will have to stop and start a few times as you adjust the zipper pull to be out of your way. It's okay if you bobble some, remember, this is a little bag for your personal enjoyment - there are no bag police that are going to judge you on your finishing skills!

Now see, wasn't that easy! Betcha never knew putting in a zipper could be so fast! Next you will be sewing the sides of the bag together. It is very important that you position the pull tab somewhere on the interior of the bag and leave it open enough to be able to turn the bag when you are finished. I like to offset the fold of the bag with the zipper just a tad lower than the top fold of the bag instead of the top of the bag, or you could put it in the center as I did on one of my smaller bags shown in the collection above. Play around with different positions and see what you find most pleasing.

Right sides together sew one side of the bag, sewing through the zipper - I don't pin the open ends because I just don't use pins (grin) but if you feel more comfortable doing this you may, it will slow you down on your "5 minute" bag but hey, we're not in a race (grin). Truthfully, the zipper teeth sometimes gap a little, but not enough that it bothers me!

To keep it speedy when you finish the first side don't clip the thread and just keeping stitching that second side. Yes, I do back tack at the stop and start of each side and I do use my back stitch to go over the zipper a time or two for added strength.

Almost finished! Now you need to trim all those strings and the extra zipper length. I prefer to use titanium scissors by Fiskars because I know they will cut anything. A good pair of kitchen scissors will do the trick too, obviously you wouldn't want to use your best fabric scissors. And yes, if you did use a metal toothed zipper, this will still work - just be slow sewing over those teeth and use the stronger scissors to trim.

Turn the bag right side out, push out those little corners, and fill up!

Ta-da! Now you are ready for anything with a cute, colorful, functional little bag! I hope you agree that a girl just can't have too many bags....except I'd like to figure out a way to get rid of the bags under my eyes! Especially when I stay up until the wee hours sewing little bags!!