Saturday was National Quilting Day. As we do every year on the third Saturday in March, a few members of the Thumbstall Quilt Guild got together to share our favorite pastimes: quilting, camaraderie and good food . This year 10 of us spent the day making Memory Bags for local Central New York hospitals. We were able to finish, or nearly finish 15 bags. If someone dies in the hospital, their personal belongings are given to family members in these bags. Certainly better than the see-thru plastic bags that the hospitals normally use. To date the guild has distributed 34 bags to three area hospitals, With the 15 we completed Saturday, we’ll be able to give them 35 additional bags by the end of the month.
Looking for a quick, easy charity project? The directions follow here.
Materials: 19” muslin or lining material [subdued print] (must be at least 43” wide) 21 fabric strips 2 ½” wide, 19” to 20” long (muted fabrics; no brights or child prints) Strips may be pieced and pressed (Or substitute yardage19” x WOF for strips). 1 strip 8” by WOF (width of fabric) for handles, ties and binding.
Construction of Handles, Ties and Binding: From 8” by WOF cut: 1 – 2-¼ ” by WOF for binding 2 – 4” by 18” for handles 2 – 1” by 18” for ties Handles: Press each 4” by 18” piece in half lengthwise. Open out. Press each side to center, press in half again. Top stitch both sides of handle. Make two.
Ties. Press each 1” x 18” piece into thirds lengthwise. Top stitch close to raw edge on side and one end. Make 2.
Binding: Press in half.
Bag Unit Construction: Press lining and strips. Fold lining in half, salvage to salvage. Press crease to find center. Open lining and place right side down. Place strip one, right side up centered over crease in lining. Pin in place. (This is the only strip that will need to be pinned). Place strip two, right sides together over strip one and sew with ¼” seam from top to bottom. Keep lining smooth underneath as you sew through all layers. Open strip two and press away from strip one. Continue in this manner adding 10 strips to the right and 10 strips the left for a total of 21 strips, sewn and flipped, pressing as you go. Do not trim. From right side, secure last strip on each end to the lining with 1/8” basting seam. Stay close to end of strip so stitches won’t show in final seam. From right side, trim away extra lining material from top and bottom of bag. Turn the bag over to the lining side. Trim away the extra strip material from each side of the bag. Size should be 18” x 40” at this point. Make French fold seams on sides of bag (like pillowcase seams): With the wrong sides of bag together, join bag sides with a scant 1/4” seam, making sure that strips on the outside of the bag line up. Turn bag so new seam is on the inside; (right sides of fabric will be together). Sew. Push seam to outside and iron, so you have a nice sharp edge. Enclose the first seam with a ½” seam. Turn right side out. Iron side seams so they are flat.
Handles, Ties and Binding: Ties: Pin the ties at the center of the inside of the bag, making sure they are hanging into the bag and don’t get caught up when you sew on the binding.
Handles: On outside of bag, measure 4-½” from right and left bag edges. Pin the handle at the 4-½” marks. Do not twist the handle. Make sure the handles are not up and away from the bag – they should be lying on top of the sewn strips and will be flipped up later.
Binding: With both handles and ties hanging down, attach the binding strip with a ¼ ” seam allowance to wrong side of bag. Flip binding up and press seam up and away from bag. Bring binding to front, handles and ties down. Top stitch binding to front of bag. Flip handles up; ties remain down. Top stitch close to top edge through all layers including handle area to secure the handles a second time.
Memory Bag is complete. Finished bag size is 17-¼” x 21-¾”.There is always time to quilt!