This is the Red Cross Bag from the lovely book Modern Log Cabin Quilting by Susan Beal. There are a lot of really tempting projects in that book, but this one really grabbed me. I love its simplicity, and I love how it looks like…well, like a real bag. I’m always fighting with this worry that my crafting will fall into that murky hole of craftiness, you know what I mean? Once, years ago, I bought a picture frame at a craft fair; one of those puffy padded fabric frames with the glued-on, scratchy plastic lace edging, where I lovingly placed my boyfriend’s school picture, and now I keep a scary visual of that thing right up in the front of my mind, so I never forget what not to do. Anyway, I think this beautiful and modern handbag is very far away from the padded picture frame of my nightmares—it is fantastic.
The log cabin blocks are made in corduroy, and the light/dark contrast is achieved by using the back side of the fabric for the first few courses of the block, and then switching over to the textured side to finish. Isn’t that just so clever? It’s all the same fabric, you just use the reverse side too. Wow, I love that. And, rather than go and buy new fabric, I went out and bought a (it must be said, tragically terrible) corduroy shirt at the thrift store.
It was an XL, so there was plenty of fabric. I cut the shirt apart and trimmed away the zipper and all the seams, then pressed the pieces.
Then I chopped them into strips, making sure to align the edge of the ruler with the wales of the corduroy, and pieced the log cabin blocks, using the teeny pieces first and adding the longer ones as the block got bigger.
The bag is lined with calico, and the button is covered with the same fabric. As usual, I had the most trouble with the strap (during which time the sewing machine actually had an opinion about the thread I was using! The audacity!) and at one point, I hollered in frustration and threw it across the room, prompting Dean to ask me if I was still having fun, but eventually, I conceded that I was going to have to stitch that part by hand, and the ship righted itself. Curling up in a comfy chair with a spot of handstitching and a creamy vanilla iced coffee is very soothing.