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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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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