Fabric Luggage Tags

My husband has begun to travel a lot for business. Just recently, he returned from a trip to London where he enjoyed the sights, smells, and tastes of Great Britain. There was one thing he didn’t enjoy as much however: having to patiently convince the passengers on his flight that his bag was indeed his.

Apparently, this happens all the time to Scott. He stands by the luggage carousel looking for his bag and before he can grab it, someone else has swooped in to claim it as their own. “That’s my bag,” he’ll begin. “No, I have a blue bag!” comes the reply. “The tag has my name on it,” replies Scott with the patience of a parent talking to a toddler. “But my bag is blue!” comes the reply.

And on it goes, until Scott reveals what is stowed in a small outside pocket—an innocuous item that only he could have placed there. It’s strange, but it’s his pocketed item that finally convinces his fellow traveler to let go of Scott's suitcase and come back to reality.

I’m recently decided to make my husband a set of distinctive luggage tags. Do I think a simple tag will be enough to convince Scott's fellow travelers to leave his luggage alone? Frankly, no. But the personalized tag will be one more piece of armor in the Scott's never-ending battle of “That’s mine, let go.”

For one luggage tag you’ll need:

  • Tag Body: One 5”x3-3/4” rectangle, one 4”x4” square, and one 1-1/2”x4” rectangle
  • Accent strip: Two 3/4”x3-1/2” rectangles, two 5”x3/4” rectangles, one 1”x4” rectangle
  • Strap: One 1-1/2”x13” strip
  • Thin upholstery vinyl scrap: One 3-3/4”x2-1/2” rectangle
Long ago, I purchased some thin upholstery vinyl at Joanne’s in their home-dec department. I keep the vinyl on-hand to use in testing out quilting patterns (simply overlay your quilt with the vinyl and mark the quilting pattern using a dry-erase marker) and for marking applique placement for applique blocks (trace the applique placement diagram from your pattern onto the vinyl using a Sharpie Oil Based marker). I recommend buying more than a scrap of vinyl and keeping some on hand—it’s ever so useful!

Sew the strap

Fold the 1-1/2”x13” strip in half lengthwise WST (wrong sides together) and press. Sew along the 13” length. Turn right side out and press.

If you want, sew down the middle of the strap several times to add stiffness and structure.

Sew the Tag Front

Sew the 3/4”x3-1/2” Accent rectangles on either side of the Tag Body 5”x3-3/4” rectangle. Press towards the Tag Body rectangle.

Sew the two 5”x3/4” rectangles to either side of the Tag Front. Press toward the Tag Body.

Sew vinyl to the Tag Front

Center the vinyl rectangle on the Tag Front. Stitch very close to the edge on three sides. Do not stitch on one of the short 2-1/2” sides. That way, you’ll be able to slip your business card in and use it to identify your luggage to stubborn luggage thieves. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Attach the strap

Form a loop with the strap. Lay the ends of the strap on the back side of the Tag front, along the side with the vinyl opening. The loop should point towards the center of the Tag Front.

Sew, running your stitches back and forth over the strap ends to secure them. Keep your stitches within the 1/4” seam allowance so they won’t show later on.

Sew the Tag Back

Sew the 4”x4” Tag Body square to one side of the 1”x4” Accent rectangle. Press towards the Tag Body.

Sew the 1-1/2”x4” rectangle to the other side of the Accent rectangle. Press towards the Tag Body.

Sew the luggage tag together

Layer the top face up and the back with its Accent strip face down. Place the Accent strip at the end furthest from the strap end. Pin.

Sew around the perimeter, leaving a gap for turning. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Trim corners. Turn right side out.

Turn under the seam allowance at the gap and press, being careful not to touch the iron to the vinyl.

Wonky Tree Block Mug Rugs

I love making mug rugs for several reasons—one of which is that they make cute, easy to make gifts. They are also so easy to personalize.

For a Christmas party hostess gift, I recently whipped up a set of mug rugs. You can use any quilt block to make yours, but if you like these wonky trees, I can show you how I made them.

To make my wonky tree mug rugs, you’ll need:

Green fabric: Two 6” squares

White fabric: Two 6” squares

Batting and backing, cut to the same size of trimmed squares

Cut your block pieces

Lay one white square on top of one green square, both right sides up. Angle your ruler and make a cut. Gently pull the side pair away.

Make your next cut to create a tree. You can make your tree fat or skinny, as you like.

Repeat with the other set of white/green squares to create a total of four cut tree blocks (2 pairs).

Sew the left side of the tree block

Take a pair of matched green/white cut squares. Lay the left white background wedge down, right side up. Place the green tree section on top of it. Lay the tree section on the background wedge so that its top point overlaps the background by 1/4”. Pin and sew. Press to the dark.

Repeat for the other pairs, sewing and pressing.

Sew the right side of the tree block

Lay the right white background wedge on top of the green tree, pin and sew. Press to the dark.

Repeat for the other pairs.

Square up the blocks

Although a mug rug doesn’t have to be square, that’s how I like them so I squared up my blocks to 5” square. When trimming, make sure you cut at least 1/4” away from the point of your tree so it doesn’t get cut off in the seam allowance when you make the mug rugs.

Make the wonky blocks into mug rugs

Cut four backing and batting squares the same size as your trimmed blocks. In my case, I needed to cut my backing and batting into 5” squares. Then I followed the steps in my tutorial here to create the mug rugs.

I quilted my wonky tree mug rugs by quilting in the ditch around the tree, and then quilting across the tree using various decorative stitches. It was fun putting some of those stitches on my sewing machine to good use!

Triangle Thread Catcher

I attended a quilt retreat recently where they hosted several demos. The first thing they showed us how to make was a triangle thread catcher.

I have no idea where the shop got this pattern, or if it's their own. I did a quick Google search through the vast Internet sea of tutorials and noticed there were plenty. Here's my addition to the Tutorial Sea:

Start by cutting out some 60 degree (equilateral) triangles—one for the outer fabric, one for the lining, and one out of batting. The larger the triangles, the bigger your thread catcher will be.

Layer the outer and inner fabrics right sides together, then place the batting on top. Sew around the perimeter, leaving an opening for turning.

Clip the points, turn the triangle right side out and press. Fold in the seam allowance at the opening and topstitch around the perimeter of the triangle to close it.

Bring two of the points together. Sew the side up from the bottom towards the points. How far up do you sew? I dunno. All I know is you want to be able to fold down the point later on and not have it touch the floor.

Repeat, sewing the other two sides. Stop at the same distance from the end.

Your triangle thread catcher now looks like this.

Use buttons to hold down each point and you’re done! Isn’t it adorable?

Popup Thread Catcher

At a recent quilt retreat, I saw a demo for a popup thread catcher.

The quilt shop that hosted the retreat never told us where they got the pattern, but I can share how I made mine. I’m sure there are tons of tutorials out there for popup thread catchers if you need more details. First off, materials:

  • A circle cut from a Pringles can approximately 1” wide
  • Two circles cut from a cereal box (these circles should just fit inside the Pringle circle)
  • Two circular pieces of fabric for the bottom of the popup, cut larger than the cereal box circles by at least 1/2”
  • A bit of packing strapping—just enough to fit inside the Pringle circle to reinforce it
  • A 9” x 10” fabric rectangle. I wanted my popup to have a top border, so I cut two rectangles 3-1/4” x 10” and sewed them to either side of a 3-1/2” x 10” rectangle

Fold the rectangle RST to form a rectangle 9” x 5”, match your border seams, and sew. Turn right side out and press.

Put the scrap of strapping inside the Pringle circle. Fold the fabric rectangle over the circle so that the fabric encloses the circle on either side. Even up the raw edges. I know this probably doesn't make sense but maybe a photo will help. See the Pringle can ring inside the folded fabric?

Push the circle tight against the top of the border and sew a running stitch just below the circle to hold it in place.

Turn one of the fabric circles wrong side up, then place a cereal box circle on top of it. Sew a running stitch around the edge of the fabric circle and gather it up around the cereal box circle. This is kind of like making a fabric yo-yo. Take a couple of stitches in place to hold the gathers. Repeat for the second fabric/cereal box circle set.

Put the two circles together, right sides out. I used my Clover Wonder Clips to hold the two circles while I sewed them together. This creates the floor of the popup thread catcher.

Hold the floor in place as you whipstitch it to the bottom of the fabric tube. I used my Clover Clips again (handy things!) to hold the floor so I could carefully whipstitch it in place.

That’s it! To pack up your thread catcher, just twist it and stuff the floor into the circle. It’ll stay in place all by itself.

To use your thread catcher, just give it a nudge and it’ll pop up on its own.

Insulated Fabric Wine Glass Coaster

If you occasionally drink wine as I do, you might appreciate a special way of identifying your glass. Even better, this wine glass coaster also helps you protect your delicate tabletops and counters from nasty glass rings.

This coaster includes a touch of insulation that I hope will eliminate any chance of seepage. If you don't happen to have Insul-Bright, feel free to substitute a scrap of fleece or batting instead. The quilting this design has adds a nice festive touch to the coaster.

What a quick and simple hostess gift--and what an excellent way to use up your fabric scraps!

Here’s what you’ll need to make one coaster.

  • Fabric: Six 5” squares
  • Insul-Bright or fleece scrap: One 5” square

Layer Bottom square

Layer the Bottom fabric square (right side down), Insul-Bright square silver side facing up (or fleece), then Top fabric square (right side up). Pin.

In the next step you’ll be quilting the layers together, so I marked my Top Fabric square with some starting lines prior to layering.

Quilt Bottom square

Quilt the layers however you want—just so they don’t shift. I quilted a few intersecting lines that were fast and easy.

Press fabric squares in half

Press the remaining fabric squares in half, forming triangles

Layer triangles on Bottom square

Lay Bottom square with the bottom of the coaster facing up towards you. Layer the Bottom square with the triangles as shown.

Layer the first triangle. Notice that the triangles are not aligned with the edges of the square—instead, they are offset about 1/4”. You’re offsetting the triangles so that you end up creating a small square of open space in the middle. (see the last photo).

Layer the second triangle, then the third.

Layer the fourth triangle. Pick up the corner of the first triangle as shown, and slip the corner of the fourth triangle under it.

Pin everything in place.

Baste triangles in place

Sew around the perimeter of the square with large stitches to hold the triangles in place.

Trace circle and sew

I decided that I liked the look of round coasters better, so I traced a circle pattern on the back of the Bottom square. Flip the coaster over, and trace your circle. A CD makes a good circle, or the bottom of a large glass.

Sew around the circle you marked. I used a CD and thought it was a little large for my wine glasses, so I sewed inside the circle using the edge of my machine foot as a guide.

Trim the circle

Trim around the circle, leaving about 1/4” seam allowance. Clip the curves to make turning easier.

Flip coaster right side out and press

Your new coaster is all ready to try out. <wink>

If you decide to make a set, consider making each one unique so your guests will be able to identify their glass when needed. And besides, isn't it more fun to make several similar but unique coasters than it is to sew a bunch of identical ones?

Merry Berry Table Runner

Getting ready for the holidays? Here's a quick table runner pattern I call the Merry Berry Ornamental Table Runner. The runner finishes 15" x 39".

Here are the fabric requirements:

Background – 1/2 yard

Gold – (1) fat eighth, or scraps

Ornaments – (1) fat quarter each, or scraps

Border—1/4 yard

Binding—1/4 yard

Backing—1 1/4 yards



               (12) 3” squares

               (5) 8 1/4” squares, cut once diagonally

               (6) 7/8” squares

               (6) 2 1/8” squares

               (2) 4 1/2” squares, cut once diagonally


               (3) 1 3/4” x 2” rectangles

               (3) 7/8” x 1 1/4” rectangles


               (1) 10 1/4” square for each ornament (3 total needed)


               (2) 2” x 36 1/2” strips

               (2) 2” x 15 1/2” strips


               (3) 2-1/4” x WOF strips


               (1) 21” x 45” rectangle

Creating the Ornament Blocks – Finish 12”

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of (4) Background 3” squares. Place (1) Background square on top of a corner of (1) Ornament 10 1/4” square, RST. Sew on drawn line. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4”. Press back, forming the corner. Repeat for each corner.

Sew (1) Background 8 1/4” triangle to the (3) sides of the square as shown. Press.

To assemble the remaining corner, sew (1) Background 7/8” square to either side of (1) Gold 7/8” x 1 1/4” rectangle. Sew (1) Gold 1 3/4” x 2” rectangle to the bottom of the unit.

Sew (1) Background 2 1/8” x 5 1/4” rectangle to either side of the unit. Position (1) Background 4 1/2” triangle in the middle of the top side of the unit as shown, then stitch and press the triangle back towards the corner to complete the Corner Unit.

Sew the Corner Unit on the remaining corner to complete (1) Ornament Block. Square to 12 1/2”. Repeat the steps to complete (3) Ornament Blocks.

Completing the Table Runner

Sew the (3) Ornament Blocks together. Notice the rotation of the blocks.

Sew (1) Border rectangle to each side of Quilt Center. Sew (1) Border Rectangle to top/bottom of Quilt Center.

Layer backing, batting, and quilt top. Baste, quilt as desired and bind. Decorate your table, sit back and relax because you're ready for the holidays!

What I love most about this pattern is that you can personalize the ornaments however you like. For example, notice that I kept one simple, added stripes to another, and applique and a stripe to the last one. If you decide to modify your ornaments like I did, just make sure you end up with a 10 1/4” square before starting the blocks.

I quilted my table runner in the ditch around the ornaments and on either side of the ornament stripes. I also quilted the stripes with soft curves. For the plain ornament block I quilted "stripes" into it.

The background was quilted with simple holly motifs. To do that, I sketched out two holly leaves (one big, one small) then pinned them to the quilt and simply quilted around them then quilted a vine down the middle.

On the back of the table runner I used a light Christmas fabric that shows the quilting beautifully. I chose a contrasting binding because I happen to like that.

I really loved making this table runner. It went together easily and the quilting was a breeze!

Why not make a quilt?

If you like my ornament block, you can make it into a quilt! Yep, I have a free pattern for a quilt that finishes 75” x 85”. The quilt pattern features the lovely Merry Berry and Bright fabric collection from RJR Fabrics.

Click here to download my Merry Berry Ornamental pattern.