When I use the term fat quarter, those not familiar with sewing and quilting give me the strangest looks. I quickly explain that a fat quarter is not a body part! Rather, it’s a certain cut-size of fabric—18″ x 22″. I don’t want to disclose the number of fat quarter groupings that I’ve collected over the years—there are just some things no one needs to know! Besides, I just like looking at the coordinating fabrics neatly tied in a bundle. There is something very soothing about pretty fabrics tied in a bow! Yet, enough is enough; fabric can only ferment so long!

Continuing with my quest of making various designer bags I decided to use a collection of fat quarters given to me by Elizabeth Schell. Shweshwe fabric is novel and unique to South Africa. The indygo fabric is printed with etched copper rollers, allowing the transfer of a weak discharge solution onto the fabric. Color palettes are varied: red, blue, black, orange, etc.

Here’s the most interesting part, the fabric is trademarked on the other right side. Authenticated backstamps such as Three Cats and Three Leopards are too distinctive to hide. So I used the right and wrong sides of the fabric. Eileen Roche of Designs in Machine Embroidery suggested that I feature the back stamp in a bag. Thanks Eileen!


Note: when you purchase Shweshwe fabric, it will be very stiff due to the heavy use of starch. After handwashing, the fabric is drapable and pliable like any other cotton. Check out the Marula Imports web site for more information.

The Trace ‘n Create Bag template—Florida Tote Collection is an ideal pattern/template to use with fat quarters. The side panels have different fabrics; the center panel showcases the distinctive backstamp—how cool is that!

The straps and connector straps are from another fat quarter. In total, we used four fat quarters of fabric.

If you’re interested in reading some of my other Creative Designer Bag Tips, here’re the posting links:

To watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, download the app.

How about your ideas?

I’m sure that you have a collection of fat quarters. What collection would you like to combine in a bag?

Thank you for your comments letting me know what you do with your scraps. The random winner of Column Quilts is Mandy Leins. She writes, Right now, I have a large tin of scraps that I have been collecting for ages. Since I am not using them right away, my little boy likes to play with them–he sorts them according to different types of criteria: color, pattern, size, and then he’ll burrow his cars and trucks into the pile. I am hoping it will be not only a fond memory for him, but will inspire his creativity. As for me, I’ve used my tiny scraps for everything from embellishing baby barrettes to making mosaic birthday cards with glue, to new quilts.

 Column Quilts

Bye for now,

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