Retreating with Bags

I just returned from our ASG Chapter's fall sewing retreat.  

A few times a year we gather with our projects and sew together.  I can't really explain how therapeutic this ritual is.  I think it must be the 'quilting bee' tradition that we are tapping into.  Yes, we sew, a bit...but mainly we just spend time with each other, solving the problems of the world...or at least our little corner of it!

There are always a few quilts that get pieced together, often long forgotten 'back of the closet' projects that need the distraction-free zone of a retreat to get to the finish line, lots of stories and laughing...and the snack alter!!  Laden with every version of chocolate and the random apple...just for show of course...no self-respecting 'retreater' would leave the chocolate in favor of a healthy snack!

One of our crew, who is famous for taking full advantage of the 11th hour, (she will back me up in that statement!), finished a gorgeous baby quilt Saturday morning in time for the 12:30 baby shower that afternoon!!!  AND, she did all the quilting herself!

I'm never sure what to take along for retreat sewing.  Many of my projects require the help of my dress form and access to my stash, for all the bits and pieces that I don't plan on needing.  Packing an entire project, with all the right notions is tough for me.  I usually don't have a plan that gets me to the end of a project, so I never really know what I'm going to want along the way.

This year I was inspired by Rhonda Buss, who shared her travel bag pattern with us a few weeks ago. (you can see and read about mine here).  I made the large 'carpet bag', but didn't get to the smaller accessory bags that she showed us.  I decided to keep the theme going and work on a toiletry bag that I have been planning for several years now!

I have a totally shredded toiletry tote that was actually the packaging for a bubble bath kit that I got as a door prize somewhere in time.  It is clear vinyl with a zipper on three sides that is the perfect size and because it is clear, I can use it for my liquids without having to pack two bags.

I know it doesn't look like much, but my husband and I argue about who gets to take it when we travel...there is just something about it that works.  So I decided to use it as the model for a new toiletry bag.
I will spare you the prototypes, of which there were several. (one was actually nice enough to share with my husband, so he now has a bag of his own!)  I eventually got to a pattern that I liked, gathered up the materials and sewed it up at the retreat.

The fabric choices started with a quilting cotton that had a vinyl coating on it.  It reminded me of the oil cloth that my grandma used to cover her picnic table in the summer.  I thought it would make a perfect lining for my bag.  

I found several fun coordinates, colorful zippers, bits of ribbon and some clear vinyl to make the outside pockets.
After making so many prototypes, the bag went together pretty quickly, leaving me with lots of retreat time to play with other bags.  

I like the Lazy Girl Design patterns and made a couple of small accessory bags.

My favorite little bag was the one I engineered for taking my earrings along.  I used the idea of a credit-card wallet as the inspiration, just making it a bit smaller.  I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.  It actually has seven little pockets.

I had lots of fun taking 'glamor shots' of my little collection of travel bags.

I am going to be sooo dang coordinated when I take my next trip...TSA will surely be impressed!

(oh, and the title of this post refers to my projects of course, not my fellow retreaters! 😝  ) 

Now that I am back in my own studio I do have some fall sewing projects lined up.  The first one being some kind of shirt to wear with a sweater vest that I got last winter.  I love it, and have tried a few different things with it, but haven't found one I really like yet.  After that...we'll see...😉 


  1. Your bags deserve all the glamour shots. Black and white stripes with flowers – swoon! Little triangles in beautiful colours and metallics – swoon! A perfect array of useful items beautifully made – swoon. How did you find it sewing the vinyl?

    1. The trick I use for 'sticky stuff' like vinyl is to put some tissue paper between it and the throat plate. Once the seam is sewn the tissue paper will separate along the stitching line and come right off. I hope you were sitting down while reading, there was lots of swooning happening!! ;)

    2. I lay on my daybed with my computer on my chest like a happy purring cat while I read nice blogs such as yours. So when swooning, I don't have far to fall – well, I don't have anywhere to fall! It couldn't be better unless I had a cat too. But then it would be on my chest and I wouldn't be able to read the blogs.

    3. You paint a very entertaining picture! Enjoy!