Hexie Zipper Bag

July 2014

7.5" wide x 7" high x 2" deep
At some time earlier this year, I ran across an inspirational hand-work project. In her August 2013 blog entry, Cindy of "Quilt Doodle Doodles" showed a cute little wrist purse that she made from hexies. I have recently become enamored of English Paper Pieced hexies, so I thought, "Gosh! I can do that, too!" And I did. Only, I didn't put a wrist strap on mine; I left mine as a simple zippered bag.

As long as you have the supplies prepped, English Paper Pieced *anything* is a perfect away-from-home hand-work project! Which is exactly what I did for our family's annual camping vacation. I have a multi-sized hexagon template, which I used to cut my own paper templates. I have lots and lots and lots ... did I mention LOTS? ... of scrap paper, generated by my home business. I have the time, as I'm not in a hurry, so it's not an imposition for me to cut my own paper templates. In the interest of transparency, I might also add that I'm cheap frugal cheap: while not specifically for this project, but certainly for my hexie Forever Project (which I'm still working on), I needed lots and lots and lots .. did I mention LOTS? ... of paper templates. I just could NOT bring myself to spend money on commercially prepared ones when I could make them myself. So I do. :-)

And then, my paper template making endeavors got simpler when I found a Fiskars hexagon paper punch! Oh joy of joys! They ALL get punched exactly the same size!! I will admit that some of the paper templates that I cut myself might not have been precisely the same size as their siblings. :-)

Anyway, I made my vacation project box ... paper templates, cut fabric squares (I don't bother to cut the fabric into hexagon shapes ... too time consuming .. I cut squares big enough. Yeah, the backs of the hexagons do look a bit messy with the extra fabric, but the backs won't be seen once it's quilted. :-) ), thread, scissors, backing fabric, batting.

I have found that I kinda like the "zen" of English Paper Piecing. It's a no hurry/no worry technique. So, I don't. The project gets done when it gets done. :-)

I patiently wrapped all the little hexies. I had cut Christmas fabric .. or at least Christmas colored fabric .. for no good reason at all, except I had a small selection of it and this seemed to be a good use for that collection. Once all the hexies were wrapped, I began to stitch them together. Little teeny, tiny stitches. Dang, I'm good. :-)

For this project, what I was constructing was the "fabric" for the front and back of the bag. The top of the bag would have a contrasting fabric (I chose beige linen .. for the simple reason is that I happened to have a LOT of it. Haven't a clue why but I do.) and the bottom of the bag would be the hexies.

Now, the inspirational hexie purse was done in single-round hexie flowers. I decided I didn't want to do that because *that* was what I was doing for my Forever Project. For this project, I decided I would simply put the hexies in a sort of ordered fashion, one hexie from each of the different fabrics, repeating when I got to the last fabric pile.

Once I had constructed the "fabric" for the front and back, it was time to quilt it. Now, normally, I do NOT hand-quilt. I love hand needlework and have done countless needlepoint and counted cross-stitch and embroidery but hand-quilting simply bores me to tears. But for something THIS small, surely I could do some hand-quilting. :-)

Now, the immediate problem was, since I don't DO hand-quilting, I didn't have any hand-quilting thread to pack in my project box. Not to worry, whilst on vacation, I always make a pilgrimage to the local quilt stores. Our vacation spot is really nowhere near anything, so such a trip is always a Day Adventure. :-)

THIS time, however, it was cause for minor panic. The "main" quilting store was now a physical therapy office. OMG. Where did they go??? I couldn't ask, as they were closed. Not to worry, I would proceed to the "new" quilt store, just .. heh heh .. "up the road". Miles up the road. Imagine my utter dismay when I found THAT store to be a psychic reader's place of business! Holy Moley! The occupants told me that the quilting store had gone out of business several months earlier. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I was on the verge of being royally ... inconvenienced.

Enter the wonders of technology and Google search on my cell phone! I found another quilt store, miles away in the exact opposite direction. I called, they were open and had the red hand-quilting thread I wanted for my project. But I needed to hurry, as they were closing in about 1 hour.

Jam that car in high gear, dear ... cuz we are breaking all the speed records to get there! And we did. Get there, that is. We didn't break any speed laws. Quilters are law-abiding folks. :-) I want to thank Bearly Quilting for being so wonderful to be OPEN and willing to chat with me. :-) They told me that the "main" quilt store, Country Cloth, had merely relocated and was still in business. I was relieved to hear that. We found them on our return trip to camp, but even if we had known about the new location, it wouldn't have done us any good, as they were closed that day (Sunday).

Once back at camp, I was able to proceed with the hand-quilting. Since I don't DO hand-quilting, I wanted this to be a simple design. Also, the print of the hexies would disguise any quilting motifs, so why waste my effort on something that 1) I don't particularly enjoy doing and 2) isn't going to be seen? I chose diagonal lines, following the angles of the hexagons. No, my hand-quilting isn't going to win any awards but I think the stitches are (mostly) uniform and they do hold the three layers together. :-)

When both the front and back pieces were quilted, I was at a stand-still. The next phase was to be done on the sewing machine: putting in the zipper and sewing up the seams. I bundled up the bag front and back into the project box to wait until I returned home. (I then proceeded to work on the OTHER hexie projects I had brought up with me).

It wasn't until several weeks later that I was able to return to completing my hexie zipper bag. Other projects took precedence, as well as ordinary life obligations. Like fixing meals and cleaning up. Boy, what a PAIN those activities are! Have I ever mentioned that the only reason I have a kitchen is because it came with the house? :-)

During another one of my internet exploration escapades, I found a blog entry that showed how to construct "wide open zippered bags". When you use standard, ordinary construction techniques to put a zipper in the top of a bag, you lose an inch or so on each end of the bag. This is really annoying to me, as it constricts the opening. Now, if the bag is sufficiently long enough, this isn't a problem. But when the bag has a shorter zipper, losing any length of the opening is irritating.

Well, Anna of Noodlehead blog, had a tutorial for her "open wide zippered pouch" and followed it up with a size chart. What I really liked about this construction is that the entire bag/pouch is open, so the contents are visible.

I did one extra, small step that makes any lined bag more pleasing to me: once the exterior and interior fabrics have been separately boxed, I then pull the lining fabric over the exterior, so that wrong sides are facing each other. Then I line up the matching corners and *sew the two boxed corners together* ... the lining and the exterior. Why? Well, this connect the lining and the exterior fabrics way down deep at the corners. This means that when I start digging around for that elusive "something" at the bottom of the bag, find it and haul it up, the lining will NOT come with the "something". If the lining is completely loose inside the bag, it will bunch up inside and small things will get lost in the folds. If the lining is somehow "tied" to the exterior, that won't happen. Oh, by the way, I used red taffeta for my lining.

Of course, you could always hand-tack the lining to the exterior but that's really unnecessary if you simply sew the two matching boxed corners together. :-)

So, now I have this completed, lined, zippered bag of hand-pieced and hand-quilted hexies. Hooray for me. ;-) I don't really have a use for it. LOL!! :-)