Autumn Jubilee Sew Along

For the sewists in our community, I hope you like this design that will take advantage of more than usual on your sewing machines.  The whole idea here is to stretch your abilities just a bit with a little more challenge, and you’ll end up with a very usable project. (#AutumnJubilee2020)

The sew along will make a fabulous strip pieced bag you can use as a purse, or a tote.  Plus we’ll do some embellishments to make it your own.  Begin by pulling out a jelly roll, or choosing 8 pretty fabrics to cut width-of-fabric strips. You’ll need 2/3-yard of a coordinating fabric for lining and handles, plus an accent piece 5-1/2 x 16-1/2-inches and a piece of batting about 18 x 44-inches  Since this is Autumn Jubilee, I’m doing mine in Autumn prints with a ninth print for the lining and handles.

Begin by cutting one width of fabric strip from your chosen fabrics, or selecting 8 jelly roll strips.  Sew all 8 together lengthwise.

When you have them all sewn, press all in one direction.

Cut off the selvedges to a clean edge.  Hang onto that bit as it will be useful in a minute.  Even up both sides, to make a total length of about 38 inches.

From the left edge, make a cross cut 5-inches from the edge.

Insert the accent piece.

Now, take a look at the stitches on your machine.  You may not have a lot of built in decorative stitches, but most machines have utility stitches that you can use.  Even a simple zigzag can work, but see if you have some fagoting stitches or other edge-joining stitches you could use.  If you are lucky enough to have a host of decorative stitches, now is the time to give them a workout.

Layer your strip piecing onto a scrap of batting large enough to have a bit of extra all around.  Using a scrap of batting and the edge you cut off, audition your stitch choices on the scraps.  It will also help you to get into the rhythm of the stitch, seeing where it goes and how you need to keep the seam lines lined up.

Thread your machine with a coordinating color of embroidery thread, or rayon thread with a bit of shine.  Sew decorative stitches on the seam lines.

The stitches will give the bag its quilting.

These are all utility stitches, but they look decorative stitches when stitched in rayon embroidery thread.

Press the piece after stitching.

Now for the accent embellishment. Use any of the leaves given in the download, or a combination to mark your accent piece for embellishing. Or, use a motif of your own design to complement your fabric choices such as a flower or a star.  Mark with a method that is removable.  See Fat Quarter Shop for some removable marker choices.

Stitch around the markings.  This will allow you to remove the marks prior to embellishing.

Remove the markings.  Add beads and buttons as desired. I planned to outline the shape with beads and fill the inside with buttons and seed beads.  I began my handwork with stitching bugle beads on top of the stitched leaf shape.

Then I filled the center with a group of orange buttons, shading the darker ones to the center and the lighter ones near the edges.  I did the first row down the center, following what might be the line of veins.

Then filled in the rest with dark near the center and lighter to the edges.  When I was done with this part, I decided it didn’t need any more beading.

Alternately, you could use your embroidery machine to embroider a motif on your accent strip prior to inserting into the strip set.  I have another project for us this month that will utilize our embroidery machines as well.

You could just add a few large buttons, or premade appliques to the accent piece if you don’t want to do handwork and you don’t have an embroidery machine.  Or simply choose an accent fabric that has a strong focal design.  Anything you want to add makes the design your own.  The finish of this project will post in two weeks.  Download the pdf for your sewing room – Autumn Jubilee 2020 SewAlong

Today’s giveaway is a $50 Gift Certificate from Fat Quarter Shop!!  International winners eligible!  Just leave a comment on this post, then click on the Rafflecopter icon below to enter.  Share your progress in Instagram and in our Facebook group with #autumnjubilee2020.

Do you use your utility stitches much?  Have you ever considered them as decorative stitches?

Fat Quarter Shop has 20% Off the Basic of the Month, plus 30% Off the Notion of the Month, and specials on the Book of the Month and Precut of the Week.  Check out the Daily Flash Sale – something new at clearance pricing every day!

127 thoughts on “Autumn Jubilee Sew Along

    1. Charleen DiSante

      That lighter gold strip parallel to the strips really sets off the soecial stitches. I like using a leaf motif on fall projects.

  1. Such a lovely selection of fabrics for your bag. I use the zigzag and buttonhole stitches for machine applique and have used other decorative stitches to edge-stitch around double layered napkins or pillowcase hems. The stitches are always fun to use, but I often forget to use them!


    I prefer piecing to applique, so I rarely use decorative stitching. Oh, and I don’t do the quilting I use a long arm Quilter.

    1. Eileen

      I have only used the zigzag stitch on my machine…will have to try out some new ones! The bag is looking Good!!

  3. Rhonda Pecenka

    I love tote bags, such quick and easy gifts. Never thought about making one with precut strips. I love it!

  4. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    Just picked up small, red, hard wood maple leaves in our woods yesterday to photo copy and use in a project. This tote is the perfect place to display them. Thanks for another great project!!

  5. Mary Ed Williams

    Love this bag! May get it done in this lifetime, maybe not. Are you familiar with Carol Ann Waugh? Her Stupendous Stitching uses a lot of decorative stitches.
    Rock on, Carole.
    Mary Ed

  6. Kelly

    I typically use the straight stitch on my machine and occasionally the blanket stitch. But most of the decorative stitches have gone unused.

  7. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    I mostly use the zig zag and straight stitch from my utility stitch section, but I have a TON of decorative stitches, so will be trying some of these out on this cute project!!

  8. Mom C

    The last few years I’ve been sewing with grandkids and they love to try the decorative stitches. We put them on everything. It’s so fun to see what they’ll do. Thanks.

  9. Jennifer Rauch

    Sew many buttons! A surprise twist – can’t wait to see how it plays with what you have planned for the rest of the project!

  10. Ty

    I usually use my straight stitch and occasionally use my zigzag stitch. My machine doesn’t have a lot of other stitches but I am now anxious to experiment.with those I have. I also have never used embroidery thread, so that will be fun to try. Thanks for encouraging me to experiment.

  11. June Alton

    I usually just use the same stitches over and over but need to experiment with some new ones. This project will be a great opportunity to expand my stitch horizon.

  12. Patricia Evans

    Hardly ever use utility stitches. I have a 30+ yr old mechanical Bernina which does not have a catalog of decorative stitches so I’ve not developed the habit of using them

  13. Nikki Moshier

    I sewed a sampler for a contest and was amazed at how different the stitches look stitched out versus the one shown on my machine.

  14. Mary Durham

    I am guilty of not using decorative stitches much, but they definitely added a lovely touch to your project.

  15. I love decorative stitches, but confess I often overlook them. Thus, I want to make a Stitch Bible and try to use them on more projects. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.

  16. I hardly ever use my decorative stitches. Thank you for the pattern, now I can get some use out of them! I love totes and will be looking for fabric to use today!

  17. Loris Mills

    Cute opportunity to use those stitches! I love the blanket stitch and have enjoyed using that on my machine. I don’t use the decorative stitches often but definitely use the different zig zag stitches with garment and masks 🙂

  18. kathyinozarks

    Lovely ideas I have a very simple hsqvarna sewing machine it’s all I wanted, so it has very very fancy stitches I would probably do some hand embroidery instead-Happy Sunday

  19. Joan Sheppard

    I pulled out the Christmas fabric to start some new place mats and out popped 7 pieces of Harvest! Great for the QAL. So many fabrics hiding out “visiting” other fabrics. Perfect for this.

  20. I use my “fancy stitches” on my Janome 8900 all the time. I do a lot of top stitching on quilts with those stitches instead of doing stitch in the ditch. I am not a confident Free motion quilter. I use a lot of my embroidery thread or Superior FANTASTICO thread for top stitching.

  21. Debbie Miller

    Such pretty fabrics and I love the bead and button leaf! I mostly use my decorative stitches when making small projects.

  22. Melanie

    I’ve not used my decorative stitches nearly enough. This looks like a very useful and fun project. Thank you, Carole.

  23. Rita

    I’ve used a few of my machine’s special stitches, but I should use more! The blanket stitch is one I use often.

  24. Jann Newman

    What a great idea to use the decorative stitches on my machine. I have a couple of ideas on how I’m going to embellish the leave. Looking forward to the next lesson and thank you for creating this bag and sharing your process with us.

  25. Elizabeth Black

    I love getting to showcase some of my machines pretty stitches since I no longer have little ones to sew for. Now I just have to clear off my table covered in quilting Christmas gifts and make one of these first for me ❤

  26. Julie

    I frequently use the utility stitches on my machine. When I piece a backing for a quilt I often stitch over the seam with the 3-step zigzag for reinforcement. I also use the 3-step zigzag to piece leftover batting scraps. I use the decorative stitches on kiddie clothes, a little row of flowers or duckies always look cute on the little ones. I use embroidered lettering to make labels for quilts. I often think about adding an embroidery machine to my fleet, but I’m not sure I need another hobby. I am enjoying Autumn Jubilee, fun activities for any year, but especially joyful in year that has been a bit on the grim side.

  27. Barb K

    I have used my buttonhole edge stitch as well as zig zag–Have lot’s more I could try!

  28. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, It has been quite some time since I have made a tote bag. This strip pattern looks like a fun way to create one. Especially using the decorative stitches on our machines to do the quilting. I know that I seldom use any of them aside from the zig zag. As for decorating the accent piece, I shall have to think on that a bit. I love to do hand embroidery and have a ton of buttons and beads that could be used, so this is definitely going to be fun but I do have to think about it. Plus, today, I need to finish stitching together my Star Blocks. Then take some pictures and hopefully be able to post them on the Facebook Page! Thank You for another great project, Carole. Have a fabulous day!

  29. Catherine B

    Oh I really like this! and since it’s smaller it’s something I can do now while I am still working full time. Thank you!

  30. Sarah Gray

    Have only used the buttonhole stitch for machine applique, but am more excited now to try a few more of my machine stitches. I really like how the beading and buttons look

  31. Nancy Myers

    Well this will be a different kind of project for me. I’ll have a chance to use lots of utility stitches.

  32. Esther G

    I have made a couple of small projects in which I used some fun stitches. This looks like the perfect project for them!

  33. Janet Nancy

    One of my MANY UFO’s is a circular, fall table topper. After seeing this post, I am going to pull it out and see if I can use some of your tips to finish it this year. Thank you for the nudge!

  34. Patti

    Thank you for this project. I have a hang up with cutting apart fabric like this! A good opportunity to try this out. Getting this logged into my journal.

  35. Now I’m hunting through my drawers looking for fabric to experiment with!😆 I better sit down and figure out how I can incorporate some of these beautiful projects into Christmas plans!

  36. quilterpt

    I don’t use decorative stitches much. I like projects like this that motivate me to get out there and use them!

  37. Deanna Grove

    Thanks for the chance. I love Fat Quarter shop (My Husband not so much). Loving the stripy quilt to.

  38. Judyk

    Yes to both. I use those stitches mostly.for quilting. Thanks for doing all the work to provide us with some fun.

  39. linda schiffer

    I love to use those so-called utility stitches for embellishing. Just today I used an edge-finishing stitch to bind the edges of a fabric postcard.

    🙂 Linda

  40. Joan Sheppard

    Almost missed this. But with the new found old fabric, I’m back in the saddle. I have a bunch of fun stitches, and some great thread to make the embellishments. Thanks.

  41. I have never used any of my utility stitches for anything. But seeing how lovely they look and to be able to use them for the quilting on a project has got me thinking of projects to use them on. Thanks!

  42. Mary D.

    Strip piecing to make a colorful bag! What an awesome idea. I love using decorative stitches and frequently use them when making simple tote bags. Thanks for the pattern!

  43. kattails

    I occasionally use the decorative stitches on my regular machine. I’ve been having a hoot playing with my embroidery machine–thanks to someone gifting me with lovely threads—how could I resist? I do use blanket stitches alot when I do machine applique.

  44. Susan Nixon

    Yes, I use the utility and the decorative here and there. I’m more likely to do hand stitching, but the machine comes in handy for many items. This is a great beginning. Thanks!

  45. EllenB

    The last couple of months I’ve been playing with decorative stitches, mostly on masks, and this will be beautiful. I cut my strips earlier this afternoon and ready to sew tomorrow.

  46. Debbie Miller Meyer

    I have my strips now need to get busy on this too! Thanks, Carole and thanks for giveaway opportunity to win!!

  47. Pam

    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration in this post! I like to sew with my 10-year-old granddaughter, and (alas!) she is only interested in sewing if we use the decorative stitches. So I usually piece things and she embellishes them with the decorative stitches. We are going to experiment with utility stitches!

  48. Judy Chastain

    I use utility stitches and decorative stitches all the time. I especially like a utility stitch to join batting pieces.

  49. Susan Salo

    I have used the utility stitches on one quilt just to see how it worked. It’s on our bed and it worked fine, so I’ll do that again!

  50. Sue Hoover

    Love the bugle beads around the leaf! One could add a lot or a little bling to this project. Fun, fun, fun!

  51. Stacy in NC

    I love the idea of quilting a tote bag. What a great project, small enough to finish but with loads of embellishment potential!

  52. Janine Allen

    Great idea to use the decorative stitches, Carole! I’m so used to piecing & have so many to choose from!

  53. Barbara Kaup

    I have used the button- hole stitch for embellishing dresden plate appliques for a quilt top. I have not used many other stitches but this bag would be a perfect opportunity to try some. Your bag is looking beautiful!

Comments are closed.