Making a Gem Bag

Turning Indah Pops  into a Gem Bag

BY DEBORAH MILLER, 
MARCH, 2017

PHOTO COURTESY HOFFMAN CALIFORNIA FABRIC

PHOTO COURTESY HOFFMAN CALIFORNIA FABRIC

If you were lucky enough to go to QuiltCon East in Savannah, GA in February, you may have seen the Gem Bag at the Hoffman Fabric Me+You exhibit.  Little needs to be said about this stunning tote. Jaw dropping will do.  I want to show you the up-close details and basics so you can make one for yourself.

TO START

FABRIC:

Me+You Indah Hand Dyed Batiks, precut 2.5-inch strips from Hoffman California Fabrics. Plus you'll need fabric for lining, side panels and straps.

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PATTERN:

Dancing Diamonds Gem Bag by Bethany Miller from PlumEasy Patterns. Co-written by Claire Haillot (Dancing Diamonds Art Quilt)

NOTIONS:

- Dancing Diamonds Interfacing Template (one included in pattern)
- Water Soluble Glue Stick
- 4 Grommet sets 1 or 3/4-inch size
- 2 yards 1-inch Cotton Strapping or ¼-inch cording for straps
- 1 ¼ yard Flex Foam by Pellon
- For a stiffer bag, add 1 yard single sided fusible Pellon PelTex
- Normal sewing supplies including a cutting mat, acrylic ruler, rotary cutter, thread, etc.

LAYING OUT THE STRIPS

Audition fabric to decide how you want your Gem Bag to look. You will use about half of the pre-cuts and have fabric left over. You might think about making a second bag with the extras.

- Cut strips in half to 22” in length, then cut into differing widths from 1, 1 ¼” or 2”, leaving a few strips at 2½ inch width. 

- Sew 4-5 strips into strata with fabrics that are similar. 

Strata are pressed and cut at a 60-degree angle and then cut into 3” pieces.

 

The strata become like a color pallet.

The strata become like a color pallet.

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Below are the strata pieces laid on the interfacing template.

Move the strata sections around to suit yourself. There is no wrong way to do it.

Next, take the strata sections off one row at a time, and sew them end to end. 
Replace them back onto the same template row.

 

 

 

ACCENT LINES

Did you notice the little thin lines that pop up on some rows?  Those are added when the colors need a visual boost.  You add 1 to 1½ inch strips to the section you want, then trim the piece back to 3” wide, before the next step.

When you’ve sewn all the rows together, you glue baste them to the template with water soluble glue. 

Next, strips are sewn to the template by folding along the diagonal lines and stitching on the back in the ¼" seam allowance. The pattern gives complete detail on how to do this. You are almost done with the top at this point.

The template is pictured below.

Let's see the pieced top full size:

The Dancing Diamonds interfacing template is 33.5 x 40.5 inches Here's the link for refills: http://www.plumeasypatterns.com/shop/dancing-diamonds-interfacing-template-3-pack

The Dancing Diamonds interfacing template is 33.5 x 40.5 inches Here's the link for refills:
http://www.plumeasypatterns.com/shop/dancing-diamonds-interfacing-template-3-pack

Once the top is done, you make the quilting “sandwich” of the Dancing Diamonds Top, then Flex Foam and PelTex, and lastly, the lining, and then quilt as desired.  Flex Foam plus Pel Tex will give the bag a very stiff, durable feel.  For finishing the side panels, adding binding and grommets, and making the strap, the details are in the pattern. 

QUILTING DETAIL, GROMMETS AND TOP BINDING

QUILTING DETAIL, GROMMETS AND TOP BINDING

STRAP DETAIL

STRAP DETAIL

We like the straps on this one with ¼″ cording wrapped with bias strips of the Indah hand-dyed black batik, and then it is zigzagged with black thread. The cord is continuous and when it meets, Bethany zigzagged the ends together, wrapped them and stitched again.  The wrapped cord also pulls the bag closed when it’s lifted.

SIDE PANEL DETAIL, SHOWING LINING, GROMMETS, AND TOP BINDING

SIDE PANEL DETAIL, SHOWING LINING, GROMMETS, AND TOP BINDING

The side panels consist of the outer fabric, Flex Foam and a fabric to match the lining, and are then quilted.

The sewing level for this bag is Confident Beginner to Intermediate.  In making this bag you will learn skills that will help you in other projects. 

Let’s take one final look at the Gem Bag:

I HOPE YOU’LL GIVE THIS WONDERFUL PATTERN A TRY. http://www.plumeasypatterns.com/shop/dancing-diamonds-gem-bag-pattern

I HOPE YOU’LL GIVE THIS WONDERFUL PATTERN A TRY. http://www.plumeasypatterns.com/shop/dancing-diamonds-gem-bag-pattern

Gem Bag Pattern

I’ve learned that we are all looking for a project to enjoy making and love using. Finding the right fabric and design makes sewing a joy! We believe the creativity of sewing is a gift from our Creator to bless us in a most practical way with things we need, use and wear. We hope you’ll stop by plumeasypatterns.com and check out all our patterns.

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