/ Sunday 23 June 2013 /
I am about to embark on a trip to the far side of the world.  I'm not a particularly good traveler - I don't like to fly and I am by nature a homebody. I'm sure I'll enjoy myself once I get there, but as the flight time gets closer I get more and more anxious. What better way to manage anxiety than to do what I like most: sew! I wanted to use the quilt-as-you-go method for bag panels made popular by Elizabeth Hartmann, and I chose one of her perfect quilted tote patterns to try it out. Here's the final product:
Here is the inside. I used directional fabric (this is from Amy Butler's Lark line, I believe), and I got one of the pieces going the wrong way around (not the only time I was directionally challenged), but it doesn't bother me.  There's an internal zip pocket and a little slip pocket. If I were to do this again, I'd interface the slip pocket, as it is pretty limp and I don't know how useful it's going to be for actually holding things.
Bag interior
I made an alteration to the pattern to increase functionality. I added a panel to the back that has a zipper at the bottom. This allows the bag to slip over the handle of a roller bag. When it is being used as a regular handbag, you can close the zip and it acts as a large outside pocket. I'm super proud of this feature, since I figured it out by myself (I didn't think of it myself - I have seen this on other travel bags in shops).
Back has pocket with zipper on the bottom to slide over roller bag handles
Here's a closer shot of the zipper on the bottom. You might also notice that the bird on the back panel is sideways - I didn't realize I had pieced this bit the wrong way around until the pocket panel was finished, but I wasn't bothered enough to make another one.
Zipper on the bottom - close if using for non-roller bag travel and it makes an outside pocket
Can't recommend the pattern highly enough. Many colour photos, very thorough text. I used cotton canvas as a base for the quilt as you go, with Soft and Stable as the batting, and I think this is a fantastic combination. The Soft and Stable simply knocked my socks off - it makes a great bag that really holds its shape so well. I think I'll never go back to fusible batting. Here's what the final product looks like in action.
Tote bag completed!
I'll be going to Australia to do some work with a colleague at the University of Sydney, then to Hong Kong for a conference. I'll leave Hong Kong to go back to Australia to visit with another colleague at the Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane) for a few days and then I'll go to New Zealand (Wellington) to see my brother and sister-in-law. And then home.  In all, I'll be on planes for over 70 hours during the month I'll be away. Any ideas about (1) how to survive the long flights, (2) must-read ebooks, or (3) things to do/see in Sydney, Brisbane, Hong Kong or Wellington NZ will be gratefully received!


{ Little Island Quilting } on: 23 June 2013 at 10:23 said...

I made one of those the other week. I love yours and your zipper idea. Long flights? I watch all the trashy movies and then listen to music and get antsy that the last time I looked at the moving map display it still hadn't moved any further to its destination.
Things to do in Sydney - The Rocks for a wander round an 'old' part of Sydney and Featherdale Wildlife Park to get up and personal with the native wildlife. Hong Kong. Definitely the cable car to Lantau Island and some fun shopping at Stanley Market. Wellington we just wandered around the harbour...apparently it's called Windy Wellington! Brisbane never been.
Have fun!

{ Michelle } on: 23 June 2013 at 10:40 said...

Your bag turned out beautifully! I love how you added a bottom functional for traveling.

{ Kath } on: 23 June 2013 at 10:44 said...

Your bag is fabulous, what a good idea.
I went to Thailand in March, a 13 hour flight. I wish I had a blow up cushion, like the fellow traveller I sat with. The seat get's very hard and hurts your backside after a while. I took my won wax ear plugs and sleep mask as even when the cabin was dark, people still had bright TV screens on and it was hard to sleep.

{ Nelly Kelly } on: 23 June 2013 at 11:21 said...

I adore your bag... I definitely plan to try that bottom zip panel idea in the future! I'm a reluctant traveler, too, and spent most of May on the road. I can recommend a few books that kept my mind off my worries... I loved Where'd You Go Bernadette?, Expat, Memoir of an Imaginary Friend, and the entire Cobbled Court Quilts series (plus Between Heaven And Texas) by Marie Bostwick. May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be forever at your back!

{ ann } on: 23 June 2013 at 14:16 said...

i just love the tote bag. i too have the pattern but just haven't settled down to try it. yours might have been the extra push i've been needing. The bottom zip pocket will be a must on my tote. Thanks for the idea.
at the end of this week i retire after 30m yrs in the classroom (Peel bd of Ed) and i can't wait to hop on a plane, somewhere, anywhere, and get lost in a book. I'm a CanLit girl so Rohinton Mistry, Linwood Barclay and Michael Ondaatje come to mind rather quickly. Australian(?) author Kaye Gibbons is terrific, Robin Sloan is a new author "Mr Penumbra's 24 hr Bookstore" was a fun read.Oh, let me stop now or you will never look out the plane window and see the wonderful sights. Enjoy your travels .

{ Prof. S (the enchanted bobbin) } on: 23 June 2013 at 15:05 said...

So smart!! I have no tips for you but will miss you! I hope we can get together when you're back. xx

{ Sarah Craig } on: 23 June 2013 at 16:35 said...

Great bag!! You're really going to love that one. As far as e-books go, I must recommend the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series - great story, long books that you will get lost in, and there's seven already - and the eighth is due out in March! They are romance/history/sci fi (strange combination I know but it works!) and the characters are wonderfully drawn. All available for Kindle....

{ Qltr89 } on: 23 June 2013 at 16:48 said...

Very clever! Thank you for sharing.

{ Adrianne @ On the Windy Side } on: 23 June 2013 at 18:55 said...

Gorgeous bag! I agree, the pocket/panel on the back is a great idea and will definitely be useful for travelling. OK, I am a Wellingtonian, so my recommendations for things to do here could run on for ages! In terms of quilt shops, I would definitely recommend Stitchbird in Kilbirnie - lots of awesome modern fabric including quite a few lines that are OOP and HTF elsewhere. Fabric is seriously expensive in New Zealand though so you may not want to buy up large here. I'm sure your brother and sister in law will have lots of things planned for you, but must-dos (in my book) include: breakfast/brunch at Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay, a walk around the waterfront and Oriental Bay, shopping along Cuba Street (Minerva right up the south end is a fantastic bookshop full of crafty books), a visit to Moore Wilsons to stock up on tasty treats, lunch at the Chocolate Fish cafe in Shelly Bay, a movie at one of the boutique cinemas like the Roxy or the Empire, and heading up to the top of Mt Victoria to take in the view. Landing at the airport is also something of an experience! I hope you have a fab visit - if you want to meet up, I'd be happy to give you a little tour of Wellington's quilt shops - I know that kind of thing can get old fast for family members who don't love fabric quite as much as you do :-)

{ Blog editor } on: 24 June 2013 at 07:13 said...

This exhibition from Lodon's V & A exhibition is now on in Brisbane until September:

Quiltsmith isa lovely quilt shop about 5 minutes by car (maybe 10 by bus) from University of Sydney, at 75 Nelson Street, Annandale. Good range of quality fabrics - much of it from the US, but also some interesting modern fabrics from independent Australian designers. As others have said though, you might be gobsmacked by the price of fabric here! Have a wonderful time in Australia. Jill (in Sydney)

{ lindaroo } on: 25 June 2013 at 13:03 said...

What a great idea to add a zipper, making a pocket that converts to a sleeve for your carry-on! I've never seen that before, thanks for sharing!
Your bag turned out beautifully! Enjoy all the compliments you're sure to get.

I know it's silly, but I have to imagine long legs extending from the airplane, with little wheels on the ground, or I spend the flight "holding up the plane" by my armrests. Ridiculous!

Focus on all the good things that are going to happen, and enjoy your new experiences.

{ Heather A } on: 26 June 2013 at 19:00 said...

What a beautiful bag and such a brilliant design for travel. LOVE IT! I've never made a bag but this is the one I would like to make should I ever get the nerve.

{ Sandy } on: 28 June 2013 at 20:07 said...

Your zipper idea is really clever and I'm like you, see a good idea on ready made and figure it out - great to be able to use as a pocket too! As for Brisbane, if you get a chance, my favourite quilt shop is Peppermint Stitches in Sylvan Road, Toowong (near the Uni), and just down the road is The Corner Store Cafe - great coffee, great menu and lovely staff (sometimes gets really busy but always worth the wait). Hope you have a wonderful trip!

{ D. } on: 1 July 2013 at 21:41 said...

Great bag!

For the long hours in the air, I recommend an iPod with noise-canceling headphones and a sleep mask like someone else mentioned. On our flight to Japan, the child in front of me kept opening the windowshade.

I highly recommend the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon. I couldn't put any of the books down! They are rather lengthy, so they will make the flights seem much shorter. Have fun!

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