Hi everyone! I’m back from the wilds of Montana where I literally jogged amidst rattlesnakes (there seems to be a bumper crop of them this year). After the first harrowing day out on the road, I decided to use my mother’s stationary bike instead…much safer…and terribly boring! I’m glad to be back in the big city where the scariest thing I encounter on runs is zealous homeowners with weed-whackers.

I’m aiming at a tone of joviality here, but in all honesty, the past was one of the toughest weeks I’ve ever gone through. My father is terminally ill and any evidence of his brilliance and humor have been masked by the disease and his inability to eat enough. My mother has been caring for him during the past year and is extremely run down, both emotionally and physically. I wish I could be there for her more, but I have responsibilities to my children and husband and can’t be gone from them indefinitely.

When I went to Montana, I vowed that I would help out my mother by doing as many chores as I could (easy enough) and also by distracting her somehow. Distraction came in the form of sewing something fun: a big, colorful bag!

patchwork bag 003

I found the pattern for this in Amy Butler’s Style Stitches. As usual with Amy Butler designs, I liked the project, but disliked her instructions. They’re far too wordy for my tastes and I have a hard time interpreting what she means, so I often end up just winging it. For the most part, “winging it” worked out just fine. The only real problem I had was choosing the right type of interfacing. Initially, I used a heavy duty Pellon product, but it was too stiff, like cardboard, and made the pleats look bad. I ripped it all off my precious fabric and used a heavy, but fluid Palmer-Pletsch interfacing. It was far, far superior. Unfortunately, the ripping process caused my fabric to distort and made matching seams up along the bottom rather challenging. My mother bravely took on that task and did an amazing job with it.

patchwork bag 004

I love all the pockets, both on the inside and outside of this bag. This is going to be great for carrying around large knitting projects and all the assorted notions.

patchwork bag 006

Check out the blinding striped fabric I used for the lining. My mother liked this even better than the outside fabric. Obviously, a love for crazy colors runs in the family ;)

Neither my mother nor I were at the top of our game when constructing the bag. There are some less-than-stellar seams here and there and my top-stitching isn’t as precise as I would have ordinarily required it to be. None of that matters one whit. What really matters was how working on this project helped me and my mother do something constructive when so many other things seem to be out of our control. The bright colors lifted our spirits and working together reminded us of happy times during my childhood when she guided me through sewing my first projects. The process was calming and refreshing.

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