Tutorial : Merit Badge Award Mini Quilt

By Christine Lux
on January 12, 2017
With 3 comments

Hey, hey! 

We all have a quilty friend who deserves an award for being awesome. Whether she (or he!) is the queen of scraps, or is always "sew happy" with their positive attitude, or even the crazy ones who maybe, you know ... run with scissors! LOL!

Today, I have a fun little mini quilt project to celebrate awesomeness! Speaking of awesome, when Moda introduced their merit badge collection last spring I knew I had to have them! And a fun award ribbon was my first project ... fast forward to now and our Moda Ribbon Challenge we are hosting along with Jen over at Heritage Threads and I finally got around to transforming this from sketch to a real live, hang-it-on-the-wall mini! 

For details about the Moda Ribbon Challenge, head over to Jen's blog post!

Here's what you will need: 

  • 1 Moda Merit Badge (they come in packs of 3)
  • 1 Fat Eighth + a coordinating charm square for award ribbon (I used Early Bird by Kate Spain - available this Spring)
  • 1 Fat Eighth background (I used Moda Cross Weave Black)
  • 1 Fat Eighth backing (I used Moda Essential Dots White Black)
  • 1 Jelly Roll strip (or 2.25" x WOF) for binding (I used Handmade Stripe in Black)
  • 1 yard Moda Ribbon (you know you have some hoarded! ;-)
  • 10" x 14" cotton batting
  • Paper, small square of cardstock, pencil, & compass (or circle template set)
  • Basic sewing supplies

Step 1: Make the Ruffle

Cut one 3" x 21" strip from your award ribbon fabric. Fold in half lengthwise WRONG sides together and stitch down the raw edges using a long basting stitch. Pull the ends of the thread to create a ruffle.  (Alternatively, you can also pleat your fabric, which is sometimes a little easier.) 

Next, draw a 3-3/4" circle on a piece of paper and cut on the line. You will use this as your guide to great the base of your award. 

Arrange your ruffled strip in a circle on top of the paper circle and stitch it down. I turned the ends under and overlapped them a bit where they met. (You can also hand stitch these ends closed if you like.)

Step 2: Make the Center Circle

Draw a second circle, this time 2.5" in diameter. I drew this on a piece of lightweight card stock. (The inserts in your Moda precuts are great for this! ;-) Cut out the circle. 

Next, place the circle in the center of your charm square. Using a needle, run a basting stitch around the circle.  Pull the ends of the thread to draw the fabric around the cardstock piece.  

Press well and trim away some of the excess fabric, if needed. (I used some Elmer's Washable School Glue to hold secure the edges down on the back.)

Step 3: Finish the Award Center

Place your merit badge in the center of the circle you made in step 2. Using a coordinating thread, sew it onto your fabric circle. (I used a navy thread and sewing just inside the aqua edging.) 

Cut eight pieces of Moda bundle ribbon about 1.5" long. Fold in half and arrange on top of your pleated piece. (Be sure raw edges will be covered by your badge circle.) Baste raw edges in place on the pleated circle. Set both the circle/badge and the pleated pieces aside for now. 

Step 4: Make the Tails 

From your fat eighth, cut two 2.5" x 7.5" strips. Staring with one piece, fold in half length wise with right sides together. Draw a line at a 45" angle at one end. This will create your angle. Sew down the long sides and along the angle, backstitching at both ends. Turn right sides out, carefully push out corners, and press. Repeat to make two tails. 

Next, cut two pieces of Moda bundle ribbon the same length as your tails. Center a ribbon strip on top of each tail and baste in place at the top. Trim the Moda ribbon to desired length. 

Finally, arrange tails under the pleated circle and baste in place. 

Step 5: Make the Mini Background

Note: make sure you are happy the size of your background compared to your award ribbon & tails before cutting!

Cut a background and backing rectangle approximately 10" x 14". Baste with batting in between and quilt as desired.  I used a grid of straight lines. 

Trim to desired finished size (mine is 8" x 12"). 

Step 6: Finish It!

Place your pleated circle with tails on top of your prepared mini. Pin in place. Then place your circle with the badge on top of the pleated section. Pin in place. 

Carefully stitch about 1/8" from the edge of the circle to secure all of the layers together - the circle/badge to the pleated unit and also to the mini/background. 

Using a 2.25" x WOF strip folded in half lengthwise to make your binding. Attach to the front by machine and finish as desired. 

Admire your work ... You did great!  Now go pat yourself on the back and give yourself an amazing acceptance speech!  :)

Hope you enjoyed this fun little project - I would love to see your award winning creations - link them up in the comments or tag me on IG (@sewlux) and use #modaribbonchallenge and #modameritbadges

Making a Weekender Bag : Sharing My Tips

By Christine Lux
on September 22, 2016
With 10 comments


Hey there!  This post is lonnnnnng overdue, but thank you to everyone who has patiently waited for me to finally sit down, edit some photos, and type up all the details on this bag. 

I have to say that I love how this bag turned out! It is definitely a favorite make so far and I will certainly make another with a similar construction method in the future (my mom has dropped a few hints!). 

This is my third Weekender Bag.  I have made two others and you can find all the details on those using this link (all previous posts about making this bag). 

A few details before we get into the nitty gritty ... 

Bag Pattern: Amy Butler Weekender Bag*  (I have heard this bag pattern is/will be discontinued.  As of 9/2016, we haven't been able to get more for our shop. I have used some construction methods from By Annie's Ultimate Travel Bag, which is comparable in size and style - more details on that later.  I would say it's worth the Craftsy class.) 

Fabrics Used: Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Black, Aurifil Thread, and Sew & Sew by Chloe's Closet for Moda.  

Lining/Interfacing: Quilted with Soft & Stable using Aurifil thread. SF-101 was also used for some parts as well.

Construction Method Notes:  In the past, I have quilted panels to Drill cloth and then inserted a separate lining once the exterior of the bag was complete.  For this one, I wanted to quilt the panels with the lining in place and bind the seams to save the step of making and hand finishing the lining at the end. I also wanted to insert the zipper in a different manner as it was not important to me that it be hidden/semi-invisible as the construction of the original pattern calls for. 

In both of these instances, I referenced the By Annie pattern for construction methods ... more about that shared in the steps below. 

Let's chat more about the details here ... 

Panels and Pockets 

I really wanted these pockets to be special and the "star of the show" ... I chose to use a layer cake of Sew & Sew, which allowed me a lot of variety from the collection to piece my pockets. The large pockets are made of various small hexagon blocks from Jen Kingwell's Smitten pattern. 

The end pockets are both Thimble Blossoms Minis - the Handmade (flower) and a Mini Spool (modified slightly to add my initial). 

When I piece pockets for these bags, I always piece a section a little larger than the pattern piece. This is especially important if you are quilting the panels with Soft & Stable as heavy quilting will make it "shrink" a little.

Since I quilted my pocket panels with the lining in place, I decided to bind the top of my pockets instead of using piping.  If you use this method, be sure to consider the seam allowance you would lose by adding piping. So either trim and then bind the tops or be ok with your pockets being a little taller (approximately 1/2"). 

I outline quilted by pocket pieces. In the photo above, you can see I also quilted about 1/8" from the edge of the panels once I trimmed them to size to keep everything together nicely as I moved forward with the bag construction.

My large panels (sides of the bag) are quilted with a large grid pattern.  Again, I started with panels larger than the pattern piece to allow me to trim to size after quilting. 


I made my straps a little longer. :)  For me it was more comfortable. 

My straps are also constructed differently.  I started with a wider strip of fabric (4x desired width), added SF-101 interfacing and then folded in half lengthwise RST. I then folded and pressed edges in towards the center.  I added a strip of Soft & Stable inside one of the folds and stitched 1/8" from the edge along both sides and then a few lines of stitches down the middle as well. 

Zipper Installation

For me, the zipper installation method the Butler pattern calls for is a little fiddly. And involves using a seam ripper on purpose. I try to avoid that for any reason, if possible! ;-) 

The construction method that By Annie's pattern calls for was more appealing to me because of the fact that it is easier.  I also liked that it then allows you to have the seam between the zipper panel and the bottom higher on the bag and out of the way of the bottom curve.

NOTE: There is some math you will have to do to make this work.  I calculated the total circumference of the completed center (zipper/bottom panel) in Butler's pattern. I then increased my bottom panel length to make up for the fact that my zipper panel would be shorter using By Annie's method. Be sure to account for seam allowances!  Check your math - you wouldn't want to have to start over. 

(Neither of these are my patterns, so I don't feel I should share these measurements. If you have clarifying questions, please leave a comment or email me!)

Also, I started by quilting longer, wider-than-needed rectangles for my zipper panel pieces.  After inserting the zipper, I used the Butler pattern piece to trim my zipper panel to the correct size & shape.  If you do this, be sure to fold the pattern piece back to account for the seam allowance the pattern calls for when inserting the zipper.  Line this folded edge up with the center of the closed zipper and trim the outside edges.

A little about my zipper trim ... 

This is a favorite feature and kind of happened because I didn't have time to get a grey zipper.  I felt the white was too stark a contrast and so I thought a pop of color would be a good idea.  Fortunately, it worked out! 

I added a folded strip of accent fabric between the panel and the zipper tape. Then once the zipper was sewn down and the seam was carefully pressed, pinned the excess zipper tape back and stitched down the edge of the accent to secure it on the exterior of the bag. Since I used a purse zipper, which has a wider zipper tape, I was able to catch the zipper tape as I sewed the accent strip down and therefore encase my seam on the inside.

I did trim a little bit of the panel only (not the tape) as shown in the photo below to help reduce bulk in the seam. 

I used pins to hold the zipper tape back so I could top stitch a little easier.

And one more photo of this step. :)

The accent trim really adds a little somethin' somethin'. :-) 

No change to the piping instructions from Butler's pattern (aside from not piping the tops of my pockets) ... I do think that bias is worth the effort, but have done it both ways.  

Zipper / Bottom Panel 

So with how I inserted the zipper on this one, the seam for my zipper panel & bottom panel is much higher on the sides.

I encased my seam with a little bit of binding. (Reference By Annie's method.)

Ignore that I still need to hand stitch the binding on the inside in this photo! ;-)

After you join the zipper & bottom panels, attach the end pockets. Use the Butler zipper panel pattern piece as a guide (align with center of the zipper).  Be sure to account for the fact that you will have an inseam on the bottom of the end pocket piece when you place this!

I think that is most of my hacks for this particular one. 

Just some glamour shots for you ... 


Looking in from the top (need to handstitch the seam binding down...)

And then the end pockets (maybe my favorite)....

I based my "C" on the Spell It With Moda letters and just scaled it down. :)

I hope these tips are helpful to you!  I also shared some progress shots of this bag any my others on Instagram with #sewluxweekender

When I make this again, I will use this same method. I found working with the Soft & Stable to be pretty easy and I love that my bag is lightweight, but has shape (there is nothing in the bag in the above photos to prop it upright). 

If you are unable to source the Amy Butler pattern, I would definitely recommend the you go with the Ultimate Travel Bag pattern - it is very close in size and shape. Though each has different features (piping versus no piping; inner pockets vs. no pockets; carrying strap vs. no strap, etc)

Feel free to email, comment or hit me on IG with questions or if you get stuck. :-) 

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope some of these tips/hacks helped you!

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