Once I received my partner assignment, Mari-Ann herself, I spent a day kind of staring at the wall waiting for inspiration on how to make a little pouch have big impact, and then it hit me that hexies could be made to look like apples. (I think I've mentioned how much I love tiny piecing - and hexagons.) I wasn't sure if it was a good idea at first, but I ended up loving it.
I used the free hexagons design sheets on the Paper Pieces site to draw up some little apple shapes and a little scene with an apple tree and sun.
Once I was convinced that hexie apples would work, It traced the dumpling pattern with tracing paper and also used a free 1/4" hexagon sheet to trace the hexagon shapes onto the traced pattern piece. I drew a line down the center of the pattern piece to align the tree, and drew a horizontal line where the bottom of the bag folded. This really helped me to see if the tree would fit and to plan how many hexies to baste. The scene transformed as new ideas developed.
Then I commenced digging through my scrap bin to find small scale fabrics that matched the theme and my partner's likes. Lots of basting and hand stitching.
For the background I chose Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics low volume leaves. She designs my favorite low volume fabrics; they are subtle enough to blend into the background when they need to, but still provide organic visual stimulation. Luckily, my partner is also a fan. Alison Glass gold sun print streamers felt very much like sunshine. My partner likes Heather Ross, so I added Far Far Away reprint flowers in white, and on bottom fussy cut the flowery meadow around the unicorn print to create a grassy border. My two favorite touches are the Far Far Away snail I fused and hand appliqued on the bottom, and the Violet Craft Waterfront Park bird hexies.
I set the pouch project aside for a couple of weeks, waiting for inspiration for the reverse side panel. I wanted to keep with the hexie apple theme, but on a larger scale. I hand appliqued a 1.5" hexagon using a hexagon print red fabric, and added an embroidered wool felt stem and leaf, and a sewed a simple running stitch around the hexie. On the tiny hexie side, I added embroidered details in lieu of quilting. I embroidered rays of sunshine, apple stems, a leaf and shiny spot on the fallen apple, a little snail slime trail, and a simple green running stitch around the tree leaves. I won't win any awards for my embroidery, but it turned out pretty cute.
This was the point where construction got a bit tricky. I cut square shapes to baste my hexies and there were so many little seams, so it was quite bulky. I knew I would have my scene wrapping around to the bottom of the pouch a bit, but I ended up losing a good 1/4" more than I anticipated, as I had to box my corners deeper to account for the bulk. It still worked out, but just not 100% as envisioned.
The pattern calls for hand basting the zipper twice, and it took a long time, but it did make the zipper very easy to attach.
For the pouch lining, I used Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market apples. I love this print because it is green, has apples, and it isn't directional in a way that requires two panels.
My almost 12 year old daughter makes the cutest polymer clay creations, and she was kind enough to make an apple waffle clay zipper charm. It turned out so cute!
Once I finished the pouch, I moved on to making a little extra goodie. I found a free paper pieced apple pattern online, added a notched bottom to it, and used more of the red hexie fabric. I then experimented with my Nova Tote Pattern to make a small size. I don't know what I was thinking when I did my math, but my proportions are off - I'll work more on adjusting that later. Even so, I still really like it. I used an H&M duvet for the lining fabric, an Alexander Henry crosshatch binding, and some red and white chevron canvas I have had in my closet for ages.
While I was in the apple making mood, I made a little apple coaster for another friend using the super adorable apple pattern in the book Playful Little Paper-Pieced Projects: 37 Graphic Designs and Tips from Top Modern Quilters. I loved making this little block.
These little apple projects were so much fun to make, and I am ready for apple season now.