Monday, May 20, 2013

Travel in Style

Summer vacation is just around the corner so it's a good time stitch up a new travel bag and travel accessories. I have several patterns for you to consider for your travel wardrobe.  

The Quilted Traveler's Tote
I think you'll love this pattern. Since the availability of quilted double-faced fabrics is very limited, you get to choose two fabrics you love—and then quilt your own double-faced fabric panels to make it. The quilting is really easy to do because you cut the bag pieces from the two fabrics and lightweight batting first, and then quilt the layers together. The pieces are cut oversize to allow for the natural "shrinkage" that occurs when you do the machine quilting. Of course, if you do find a quilted fabric you like, you can substitute it and eliminate the quilting steps. Cutting for already-quilted fabric is included in the directions.

Note: To keep bulk to a minimum, the bottom panel is interfaced only, and the pocket panels are quilted to a layer of cotton flannel, rather than to batting. When I first designed this bag, all the pieces were quilted, which made the side seams way too bulky. The re-engineered tote is easier to sew because some of the layers are thinner.

Yardage requirements are generous in this pattern, based on using a fabric that has 40" of usable width after preshrinking. You will cut the required pieces as if you are using a directional fabric. There will leftover fabric that you can use to stitch up coordinating small bags, like the Accessory Bag pattern you will find included in my Easy Breezy Padded Tote pattern.  
It's easy to make, using the quilt-as-you-go technique with stitch-and-flip construction. Use it for a cosmetic bag or for organizing small items inside your tote or suitcase.

Note: The Easy Breezy Padded Tote is sized to fit most laptops and has an interior pocket that will accommodate most e-readers. It's another great option for day-to-day or long-term travel. The coordinating accessory bag is perfect for the adaptor cord or for your small travel camera and cords.

You will love the Quilted Traveler's Tote because:

  • It's sized to fit in the overhead compartments on airplanes.
  • It has a zip-top closure so you can fill it to the max when traveling. Or, you can leave the zipper open if you want an open-top tote for carrying supplies to your favorite quilting class or when using it as a carryall for shopping or errands. 
  • One of the outside pockets features a zipper, making it a great place to stash your travel documents for safekeeping.
  • The outside pockets are divided into 3 pockets when you sew the straps in place. That gives you several places to tuck small items for easy access.
  • There is a hanging pocket inside the tote—another easy-access place for safe storage of small items.
  • The straps wrap all the way around the tote, making it very sturdy. I usually use 1"-wide cotton, polyester, or nylon webbing for my tote straps but the colors are limited. For this tote, webbing wasn't available in any color but white. When I got ready to stitch the white in place, it stood out like a sore thumb even though there is white in the print! Back to the fabric store I went, where I found the perfect 3/4"-wide green polyester grosgrain ribbon. I bought the same amount as the webbing and then stitched it in place on the white webbing. A bit of white shows at the edges and that's OK with me!
For the Perfect Companion Piece...
consider the Sew 'N' Go Sewer's Wallet. You can use it for travel documents, cash and change, your glasses, and other small items to keep close at hand when maneuvering the security lines at the airport. Wear it around your neck for easy access, and then tuck it into the pocket of your travel tote to keep it handy during the flight if needed. Multiple pockets on both sides make this pattern a real favorite with sewers and quilters traveling to quilt and sewing expos and to keep small tools handy during classes.

The Terrific Travel Tote
If you want a tote that is lighter in weight, try this pattern. It's very similar in style and features to the quilted version, but you can use any fabric--tapestry, leather, faux suede, outerwear fabrics, how dec prints--the possibilities are endless! This is the perfect tote to fold and pack in your suitcase for toting home your travel treasures. It will take less time to assemble, too, because you won't be quilting your own fabric pieces first!

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