I absolutely adored this year's Zakka Sew Along featuring Zakka Style by Rashida Coleman-Hale. The projects were fun and useful, and I learned so many new techniques as we moved through the book. But perhaps the best lesson I learned is that it's important to make any project your own. Patterns and books are just a place to start. While there are times that it's helpful to make something exactly the way it's written in a book, sometimes it's a good thing to let your creativity steer you in different directions.
I've been falling in love with Japanese patchwork lately, and buying a copy of Natural Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki just made me feel the love even more. There are a number of gorgeous projects in this book, but I was immediately drawn to her Courthouse Steps Zipper Bag -- so different from any other bag I've made before. It's been on my list of projects to try for weeks now.
For my version, I decided to forgo the patchwork front and use a panel from Melody Miller's Ruby Star Shining collection that I've been saving, maching it with a dark teal linen blend from my local quilt shop for the rest of the exterior as well as the lining. I changed the shape and size slightly so that the bag would be large enough to hold my books when we take a family library trip -- if I had gone just a little larger, it could have held my laptop too. Since I prefer longer handles, I extended those a bit as well.
I like the texture and stability that the bag has due to all of the quilting. I kept the back clean and simple so that the focus would be on the front of the bag.
The only other pop of color is the inside pocket which is also from my Melody Miller panel. Sewing the binding on the inside of this bag was a pain, and I have the pricked fingers to prove it. Still, I like the added structure that it gives the bag.
Between the front print and the overall shape of the bag, I think it has a nice retro charm to it. I'm already using it to carry around my books -- by the way, you must check out the two titles pictured above if you get the chance -- and I can't wait to bring it along to the library later this week.
And now on to the next project!
Linking up to Craft Buds.