Upcycled Travel Tote
When I have time, I love to visit resale shops and garage sales to find objects that I can incorporate in my sewing projects. I often buy old backpacks and purses just to cut out the closures and fasteners for other projects. I sometimes buy resale clothes with great looking buttons, only to cut them off and use the buttons to make some of my less expensive clothes look more expensive.
For this tote, I made the actual bag out of pre-quilted fabric that I found at Good Will. I filled the inside of the tote with fasteners and pockets to hide trinkets and valuables that M might need during her travels. Around the top edge of the bag, I stitched a trim that was originally found at the hem of a pair of capri pants that I bought at a garage sale. After all that, I used my embroidery machine to personalize the tote. M seems to love this colorful bag and she smiles when others ask her where she bought it. She proudly replies, “My mom made it especially for me”!
Over 18 years ago, I bought one of the first sewing/embroidery machines. It was a Bernina Artista 180. I have to say, this beautiful machine works today, just as it had the day I purchased it. Initially, I would personalize every item I could get my hands on because working with font is pretty easy on a programmable machine. I used to visit websites to find digitized designs for purchase or for free. Ann the Gran was one of the sites I visited on a daily basis. I would download any designs that appealed to me. One of the design packs that she posted was that of various coordinating medallions. I envisioned them on a quilt.
These days, raising kids and working full time, have left me with very little leisure time for quilting. Using the embroidery machine can make short work of things. In this quilt, I used solid cotton squares to hold my embroidery designs then used a few pieces of fabric from my scraps pile to finish the quilt.
Last year, because of the exciting advances that are now built into the newer machines, I bought a second sewing/embroidery machine. The embroidery/ sewing machines have made sewing and quilting a pure joy. They make my sewing skills look pretty awesome with a simple push of a button.
This is a project that my daughter and I made together. I wanted her to get experience on the sewing machine without having to fiddle with a lot of busy work while she sewed. What I love about the project is that the seams are pinked with shears and its all simple, straightforward measuring and sewing. We picked out four coordinating flannel fabrics and cut 112 (6×6″) squares with pinking shears. We placed the squares 8 across and 14 down. (You can certainly make it larger or smaller to suit your needs. ) M sewed the rows with seams, wrong sides together, for a more rustic look. Before adding a pieced backing (made with odd shaped flannel scraps), M stitched three colored ribbons into the side seam of this travel blanket so that it can be tucked away and pulled out when needed. M sometimes ties her blanket to her backpack or suitcase so it’s there when she needs it. I’ve washed this several times and it seems to get softer with each washing. This is a great beginner quilt project for kids!