myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Trying out some new techniques

I’ve made quite a few bags over the years, but they have all been pretty basic. I can either do a tote bag or one with a box gusset like the one above. Regular readers will know that I have serious problems following patterns and therefore am doomed to ‘make things up as I go along’ often to mixed results! But it is actually easier for me that way than trying to do as I am told!
A few months ago I made this workshop bag to take to QuiltCon and tried out an inserted zipper pocket to stretch myself. I used this tutorial.

When I showed my regular students the workshop bag they all wanted me to teach a class, so I listed it in this term’s prospectus and the class sold out in a few days! So now I have to make at least one more workshop bag to remember how I did it. And more specifically try out that insert zipper pocket a few more times!

So that brings me to this bag which I made earlier this week for a friend’s special birthday. The blocks were made as samples for a new course of my Modern Sampler Quilt class. They are what I call Japanese x and + and there is a great tutorial for them here.

I also used up some Karen Lewis Textiles fabric I had left over from a recent Love Patchwork and Quilting commission (you will get to see this in July!). Each side of the bag uses different fabrics but hopefully with a cohesive overall vibe.

The background fabric is the gorgeous Manchester Linen from Robert Kaufman. I love the look of this fabric but boy does it fray!
I decided to try matchstick quilting for the first time here too. I love the look of it but you can see just by looking that it is quite a commitment, so trying it out on a bag seemed sensible. I used an Aurfil 50 in a variegated yellow. It didn’t take too long but used up so much thread!

I left some spaces between the quilt lines so that I could add some hand quilting with perle cotton 8’s afterwards. I had been inspired by a quilt I saw in Austin with the same quilting, I am very sorry but I can’t remember which quilt now!
I really love the texture this achieved.

As this is for a special friend I embroidered a felt label for the inside.
I also used a magnetic snap for the first time, pretty self explanatory really, though I did check out this tute first and found it very useful.

So lots of new techniques explored this week! Who says you can’t teach a new dog… etc.

I’m pleased with how this turned out and am already feeling more confident about the zip pocket. Nevertheless expect a few more bags popping up here during May!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous, especially as it has lots of my favourite aqua shades. I love the bright lining too. I can see why the class sold out so quickly as it has so many fun features like the patchwork handles.

  2. It looks fabulous! Love the fabrics and the quilting too, boy lots of thread! It gives a great effect though and I love the added bits of perle. What a great idea about embroidering your label, that's a really lovely special touch.

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