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Summer fun and a DIY first aid kit

DIY first aid kit
Now that summer is here, many people are planning day outings or vacations with the kiddos.  It’s a good idea to have a first aid kit with you in case something happens, and I know I haven’t even kept one in my car (I’m learning, though!).  So this pattern has a free zipper pouch tutorial and a free foundation paper piecing tutorial in it.  Two for the price of one! But not really, because they’re both free 😉  Head over to the AQS Blog and get your free tutorial HERE!

finished foundation block

If you don’t feel like messing around with the band aid block and the paper piecing, you can totally skip that part and just cut two slid pieces of fabric for the front and back.  But those little band aids are so cute!  

I filled my little kit up with band aids, some antiseptic spray and wipes, bandage tape, gauze, and antibiotic ointment.  You can personalize yours however you’d like and maybe sew up an extra one for a friend (or for dad’s car).  The little band aids are a great way to use up small scraps of fabric.  I know I have a hard time throwing any fabric away, so I’ll keep this block pattern close at hand for teacher gifts or whatever!  Happy sewing until next time!

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Quilting on unconventional fabrics – Quilted Notebook bag tutorial

Happy, happy 4th of July!  I hope you’re able to enjoy the holiday with your loved ones and make some great memories.  

Today, I’m excited to share a free tutorial that I created with the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 for an awesome project bag.  I’m always scouring the house for bags to load up with notebooks, sketch pads, folders, or whatever I’m currently working on to squeeze in a few extra minutes of work on the go, and this bag has a little extra depth to really protect all those items.  It’s also reversible, so you can make one side to go with the fall season and the other a little brighter to work with spring and summer!

Reversible Notebook Bag

Plus…we’ll take a look at quilting on a thicker fabric than your usual quilting cotton.  I do a lot of quilting and embroidery on leather and faux leather fabrics, and there is a lot of hesitation when it comes to that from some.  When I started sewing, I didn’t take a bunch of classes…rather, I just dove in and experimented to find what worked for me.  I didn’t have anyone there to tell me I shouldn’t try something, or that it wouldn’t work, so I think that was a huge benefit.  For this tutorial, break out that walking foot (or your free motion foot) and try your hand at some geometric quilting.  

Janome Dual Feed Foot quilting geometric lines on faux leather

If you haven’t tried quilting on leather or faux leather before, I’d recommend getting a few scraps of some cheap faux leather–my local Joann’s has lots of remnants on clearance that I grab whenever I can–and do some quick samples.  I usually do my best work on “trash” fabric when there’s no pressure to mess up expensive fabrics.  I’ll make sure my pieces are big enough to make a little cosmetic bag or something with later on, because 9 times out of 10, I end up wishing I could save my sample!  

This really is a quick sew–and you can easily alter the bag measurements to make the bag any size you like, upgrade it to add some pockets on the interior and exterior, or whatever your needs are.  Check out the full tutorial on the American Quilter’s Society Blog and have fun with it!  Go and conquer your fears of quilting on some different fabrics, and happy sewing!

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Variety is the spice of life!


Good morning!  Sometimes I think that when people look at my blog or my Etsy shop that they may not see a cohesive product…and I worry about that a little sometimes.  However, I just enjoy doing all the things that I do too much to get rid of any of them.  I know I could maximize my time and efforts if I chose one endeavor and focused only on that, like quilting or bag making or pattern writing.  But I love them all dearly.  And there’s something to that saying, “Variety is the spice of life”, am I right?  In my previous career, I was an agriculture science teacher.  Let me tell you…that is a job where you never have to worry about having the same day twice!  That’s what made it fun and exciting, and that’s why I love being able to create a multitude of things.  The teacher in my wants to share patterns and tutorials to give a love of sewing to others, and the bright color lover in me (I was obsessed with Lisa Frank, growing up in the 90s!!!) loves to translate that love into bags and quilts.  I know that my “creative process” (I really don’t take myself too seriously, so don’t roll your eyes at that) would suffer if I didn’t have all of these things to throw myself into.   



I love making things that last.  I want the things I create to have some sort of impact.  I want to bring happy colors and joy to people, even if it is in some small way.  So today, I’m going to share one part of my creative business with you that I don’t focus on too much on the blog.  I started making my Mamacita Loca bags just a few years ago (I still have the very first one I made and don’t ever plan to get rid of it…kind of like when businesses frame their first dollar they make!).  I loved the idea of the embroidered handbags I was seeing at rodeos and stock shows at different vendor booths.  The aesthetic was loud (which I loved), but I wasn’t crazy about the selection of embroidery designs available on the bags.  I started thinking of how much I would LOVE to see some Calaveras embroidered on the bags and more Dia De Los Muertos themed items.  My love for Halloween runs deep, and I always was obsessed with Day of the Dead when I learned about it in high school.  So I started making some simple bags and adding embroidery to them.  I even offer custom embroidered monograms for the bags.  They look really great (and I feel like you don’t have to worry as much about your purse getting stolen!).

Like any endeavor that is started from the ground up, there were lots of things that needed to be improved on.  For one, I had zero background in bag making, aside from some free patterns I had gotten online for some VERY simple quilted bags.  I didn’t really know anything about stabilizers or interfacing.  Luckily, I knew I needed to refine all these things before I offered these bags to my customers.  I am pretty proud of how far they’ve come, and that I still make these bags 100% myself.  No one else touches them, start to finish.  I feel like I’m able to offer a really great, handmade product that can offer a sense of personalized style. 


One of my first Mamacita Loca handbags

This bag was one of my earliest bags (as you can tell from the lighting and poor photography!).  I get most of my skull embroidery designs from Urban Threads Embroidery, and I absolutely love their site.  I was a little disillusioned when I first started embroidering before I found them, and was disappointed in how “traditional” most of the embroidery websites were.  I wanted something that felt young and fresh, and they were the answer! 


I’ve moved away a little from the blatant DDLM themes and have started moving towards the boho scene with colorful arrows and a little southwestern influence.  I have always loved Mexican style saddle blankets and started using the serape-fabric with the faux leather for a really bold look. 

Anyway, I don’t plan on editing out bag making anytime soon, and I just wanted to share this part of my creative process with you.  I really love the entire process, from selecting the fabrics and then choosing an embroidery design, selecting threads to coordinate with the design and the fabrics, and then putting the whole bag together.  These are available in my Etsy shop under the Mamacita Loca listings, so go have a look HERE!
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Quilt market prep- with hand bags for Leslie Tucker Jenison

So many people in the sewing community are working hard to prep for market in and around the month of October.  I know when I first got an instagram account, I was so jealous of everyone posting the #secretsewing or #marketprep or whatever the hashtag was and hoped that someday I could get in on the action too!  In my local MQG, one of our members-Leslie Tucker Jenison-recently got a fabric line with RJR fabrics and I was asked to quilt a few items and make some bags from her amaing fabric line, Urban Artifacts!  Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and couldn’t wait to get started.  I know this is December and quilt market was in October…life happens, guys!

Reisende Bag in Urban Artifacts Fabric by Leslie Tucker Jenison for RJR Fabrics, pattern by Sew Sweetness

So Leslie selected three really awesome bag patterns for her market booth and the first one was the Reisende bag-a Sew Sweetness pattern.  I really love the look of these fabrics with this pattern and I cannot wait for them to be at my LQS!!!


The next bag Leslie had chosen was the Nora Doctor bag by Swoon patterns.  This pattern is seriously so cool.  I love the vintage looking patterns and these fabrics are also amazing.  

Nora Doctor Bag-Swoon Pattern in Urban Artifacts Fabrics by Leslie Tucker Jenison for RJR fabrics

The final bag I made for Leslie’s booth was the Betty Bowler, also a Swoon Pattern.  Such a great pattern to showcase Leslie’s new fabric line, and I couldn’t be happier with how they all turned out.  I’m so excited that my sweet friend had this opportunity to show off her amazing artistic talents and share her art with everyone!  

Betty Bowler by Swoon Patterns in Urban Artifacts by Leslie Tucker Jenison for RJR Fabrics


If you haven’t tried your hand at making some of these store-quality bags with these awesome patterns, I highly recommend that you grab some great fabric and try one!  I don’t think you’d be disappointed with the results!  Plus, you should go check out Leslie’s fabric line and buy the prints.  Pictured below is Leslie’s full line.  I am SO inspired by the grey/steel color way!


Leslie’s complete line-photo taken from leslietuckerjenison.com 
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Spooky Spiderweb Trick Or Treat bag tutorial

If you’d like to make the perfect project for your special little trick-or-treater, I teamed up with Janome to bring you the perfect tutorial for a reusable treat bag!  Visit Janome’s website for the full tutorial and a quick and easy sew!  

 This is a great project with a little pop of color on the reverse side of the drawstring bag–you can use a contrasting fabric to really make it pop (or even glow in the dark fabric!)


And learn to quilt some really fun spiderwebs!  Enjoy!

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Free pattern! Water resistant pool tote

 If you’re planning a trip to the pool, river, beach this summer, you’ve got to whip up this painless pool tote lined with laminated cotton.  Throw your wet towels in and you don’t have to worry about them getting water spots on the car seats or even forgetting about them in the car (hey…don’t judge…we’ve all done it!)

Water resistant pool tote

The only thing extra you might want to pick up, as far as sewing machine accessories, is a teflon foot.  Teflon feet are absolutely amazing when it comes to sewing any sort of “sticky” fabric.  So if you run your hand over it with pressure, and it doesn’t smoothly run across the fabric, a teflon foot will easily sew it!  Some great examples are glitter vinyl, regular vinyl, oilcloth, and laminated cotton.  Any fabrics that look like they have a sheen or platic-y finish.  Personally, I love to sew with weird fabrics, so I’ve had a teflon foot for a while now.  But if you don’t stray from the beaten path very often, now is the time to stray!!!  You will love the teflon foot, and have so many more interesting sewing options.  

Teflon foot for Janome

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty–This pattern was written for Janome exclusively for the Quilt views blog.  So you can grab the FREE PATTERN HERE

Hop to it and get sewing!  Make something cool this summer 🙂

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Using Kraft Tex in projects

I have always had a love for branching out and trying new things! I really love quilting adn sewing with leather and other leather-type prodcuts to see what kind of finish they will have.  I think products made with a combination of high quality quilting cotton and leathers and faux leathers have such a great impact as finished products.  Below are samples of some purses that I made with Kraft-Tex.  
Tula Pink Plume and Parisville patchwork purse with Stone Kraft-Tex

Alison Glass Ex Libris purse with Natural Kraft-Tex


One issue that comes up with making things from quilted leathers or faux leathers is that they typically can’t be thrown into the washing machine with little care.  This creates a problem when you’re constructing fashionable diaper bags with leather that REALLY need to be washed.  

A possible solution that I’ve found is called Kraft-Tex, produced by C&T Publishing.  

Kraft-Tex used to be available in just “Natural”, which mimics the color of veg-tanned leather.  C&T publishing now offers multiple color options, including “stone”, which is pictured above.  

So you might be thinking right now…hmmm…I wonder if Joanna is getting anything from C&T Publishing for featuring their products on her blog.  NOPE!  I just really like this product, and I know I was a little intimidated about first working with Kraft-Tex.  But YOU shouldn’t be!  I have some great tips for you if you’ve never worked with this stuff before to make your life a little easier.

Tip #1
Once you sew a hole in this, it’s there forever (think oil cloth).  Use a smaller needle, and space your stitches a little further away from each other to prevent unsightly stitches.

Tip #2
Kraft-Tex is easier to work with if you pre-wash it.  It isn’t necessary, but I really like the look and feel of it after I’ve washed it.  And I wash and dry mine 3 times before I touch it with the sewing machine.  Washing and drying gives the Kraft-Tex a lovely texture that looks similar to that of worn leather.

Tip #3
After I wash and dry my Kraft-Tex (I throw it in with other loads of laundry I’m doing.  You don’t have to worry about Kraft-Tex bleeding on anything.), I iron it with steam.  This will help (along with washing it) to soften it up a little and make it easier to work with.

Tip #4
Kraft-Tex doesn’t really have a right vs. wrong side.  But you will want to make sure you keep using the same side as your “right” side.  Before I cut my pieces out of the Kraft-Tex, I stick a post it to the side I select as my “right” side.  And I do this again to the pieces I cut so I am able to keep it straight.

Tip #5
Kraft-Tex does NOT fray!  (Go ahead, do a little happy dance.)  This makes it really enjoyable to work with.  

Tip #6
You can also use permanent markers on your Kraft-Tex to create really awesome designs (If you’re partial to doodling!).  I would recommend heat setting any marks that you make with your iron (without steam) prior to getting wet again.  

Tip #7
For the most part, Kraft-Tex wipes clean and is really versatile.  It’s easy to get dirt from wear and tear off.

Tip #8
Dying.  You can darken it with natural dyes or synthetic.  

Basically, I think Kraft-Tex is awesome.  It really makes other colorful fabrics shine and sets your products apart from others.  It’s a great product to consider, and even better when it is a fraction of the cost of real leather (with a consistent look and supply source).  

There are a wealth of projects, and if you search “Kraft-Tex”  on Pinterest.  You can create awesome stationary, make up bags, purses, and pretty much anything else you can think of, so try it out! Search Kraft-Tex Projects on Pinterest


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Quilting is my first love, but garments have wooed me!

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to do some work for Janome.  I made a few garments and a bag for them to use in a photo shoot, and even though it was stressful, seeing the finished products come to life on other people was maybe the best feeling in the world!  

I can’t post the video yet, as they haven’t released the advertised equipment yet, but I did screenshot some of the items I made to share with you.  I never thought I would have an opportunity to do something like this, and it was a blast!  I only recently started my trek into clothing, even though I’ve dabbled in bags since the beginning.  I must say I’m smitten and sometimes so in awe of the pattern designers.  

I can’t wait to continue my journey into exploring different garment fabrics, and even incorporating some into the quilts I make.  Even though I adore quilting and the process that goes into it, sometimes trying things you aren’t comfortable with are really refreshing and have the ability to breathe new life into your work.  Now that the school year has started, I’m back at quilting, but it’s really nice to know that garments will be on the sidelines waiting for me the next time I want to stray away and try something new 🙂

This bag.  I could barely let it go!  Love those colors so much 🙂
Sorry for the blurry picture on this one, but those are 2 
of the 3 pairs of shorts I made for the photo shoot.
And the top.  My pattern and the embroidery was
 all new embroidery designs from the sewing 
machine company that come stock with the machine.

 Then this little guy.  Literally.  He was 17.  31 year-old me had to 
dance with him.  It’s okay…I left my walker on the side 
of the dance floor 😉  That denim jacket was embroidered by 
my friend Danielle who does such beautiful work–the girl has got mad skills!

These are the two other girls from my guild that were in the
photo shoot I was in with the denim jackets.  We had so much fun.
I couldn’t seem to get a good paused part of the video with Toni…
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Creating bags with no pattern (or making it up as you go)

For roughly the last week, I have been working on this duffle bag after I received my first shipment of Tula Pink fabrics.  I am absolutely NUTS about this fabric designer.  Her use of color is insane, and her patterns are awesomely fun.  I’ve had a duffle bag on my to do list for over a year now, and it was high time I kicked into high gear.
I browsed tons of websites looking for patterns for duffle bags, watching tutorials, and looking up travel bags on Pinterest.  I didn’t like any of the patterns, they all seemed either really juvenile, dorky looking, too small, or just not finished enough.  
So I made a list of all my “must haves” and decided to write my own pattern.  I had all my fabric out and ready to go, and got to work in my sketchbook drawing out measurements and the order of construction steps.  Turns out I didn’t even so much as cut a piece of fabric until 2 days later.  If you haven’t ever written a pattern before, you might take for granted how much time, trial and error, and re-writing goes into it.  
The project took me about 5 days start to finish (my husband’s family was in town for the weekend–I may have been able to shave one day off if I worked all the way through).  
The one thing I just really was not satisfied with was that I did not put any interfacing in the zipper panel that goes in the top.  In the picture, I have two huge sacks of fabric shoved inside to keep the middle from drooping.  I’m pretty confident that adding the interfacing would fix that.  Maybe there will be a duffle bag 2, but I’m thinking about naming this bag “The Body Bag”.  I could literally fit all three of our dogs inside and still zip it up (Border collie and 2 heelers).
This bag has all over free-motion quilting in four different thread colors, a three-section elasticized pocket on the interior, a 3-section pocket for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, another smaller elasticized pocket, and another 3-section pocket.  The exterior has two zipper pockets (one on each end), and 4 exterior pockets.  And enough room to pack for a week and a half without needing anything.  Those were my requirements, so I guess if the middle is a little saggy, I’ll get over it!

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Watermelon twist travel bags

Whew!  It’s been a busy month for me!   I recently started by own business, Kustom Kwilts and Designs, and have been preparing for two upcoming craft shows to sell my products at.  I can honestly say in the last few weeks, I have gained a huge appreciation for artisans who craft their own products and actually make a living doing it.  I am a full-time employed teacher (ag science) and in my spare time…what spare time?…I attempt to stock up for these shows.  This is a set of make-up or travel bags that I recently made that I adore…don’t know if I will be able to part with them!  Due to the colors I picked, I call them the watermelon twist set.