Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pyramid Pouch Tutorial

Cyndy's blog, Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, is one of, if not the very first blog I ever followed.  Her turquoise, lime and black quilt caught my eye, and I started looking through her blog, and was hooked.  Last year when she started her Scrap-a-Palooza series, I became a serious fan of hers, making six so far, and .... drum roll.... surprise! Here is the start of my 7th:
Scrap-a-Palooza Quilt #8 from August 2014

This will be one of at least two charity quilts I am donating to the seniors' residence across the road from our home in Ontario.  I also signed up to donate another quilt for the Canadian contingent in Hands 2 Help Challenge at Confessions of A Fabric Addict this year.  Of course, it will be a scrap quilt, but that one will be for a child.  As for the Scrap-a-Palooza series, now in its 14th quilt, I just love the ideas Cyndy comes up with for using your scraps, and the great results she gets.

I had sent Cynthia (Cyndy, she answers to both, she says!) this little pouch idea with a what do you think email back in January.  Because she has had excellent success in publishing,  I had wanted some advice regarding submitting it.  She did not disappoint, giving me lots of great advice.  When she asked if I'd like to have this project featured on her Oh Scrap! linky, I was thrilled.  So grab another cup of java, and read on for a fun little project.

This is an original design (puff out chest) scrappy project.  It is also another one of my First Quarter Finish Along goals.  Yay! This was the second project completed on my list of six, wait, ... eight.  Seriously, Sandra? Eight?  All right then. (note: I wrote this tutorial on February 1; I now have 6 of 8 completed, and boy it feels good!)

I would like to give a nod to Moda Bakeshop for three tutorials of small makeup pouches; I've made each pattern more than once.
Quilted Patchwork Pouch
Strippy Charm Pouch
The Cake Clutch
These projects, the made-several-times Take-Along bag from Lazy Girl Designs, and all the work I did last year with my scraps, thanks to Cynthia's Scrap-a-Palooza series, were responsible for starting the idea percolating.  Check out quilt #13, the first of the 2015 Scrap-a-Palooza quilts!  So ingenious.  (Since I wrote this tutorial, she now has #14, yet another, oh, cool! quilt idea.) Back to my pouch, I still splan to make a large one-patch triangle quilt, but I thought, "what about triangles plus a makeup bag plus 2.5" strips?"  and voilà, The Pyramid Pouch was born.

Fabric requirements
Scraps of varying lengths by 2.5" width. Squares do not have a wide enough base.  You need a total of 64 triangles, 32 per side.
2 batting scraps measuring 14X9" each OR a strip measuring 24X9" (or stiff iron-on interfacing in the same measurement)
lining the same measurements as the batting or 1 fat quarter
a zipper that is at least 12" long (if you only have a 20" zipper I will show you how to make it work)

We will be cutting 60° triangles.  You can make a template out of template plastic or paper, but I just use the angle lines on my 12" Omnigrid ruler.

Place your ruler on the fabric strip with the 60° line along the bottom edge.  Cut as shown.
Making use of the bright sunshine shining into my sewing room!

Turn the entire mat around if you're working on a small one, as I am. Otherwise, carefully turn the strip around (remember bias edges are very stretchy).  Line the 2.5" line up along the just-cut edge, and the 60° line along the bottom edge of the strip as shown.  Cut.  You will have a diamond shape that is 2.5" wide and 2.5" high.

Now line up the 60° line along either the top or the bottom of the strip (sometimes you have to finagle the ruler a bit to get the edge for cutting in the right place), and the cutting edge of the ruler from point to point of the diamond.  Use the shorter distance of the two point-to-point distances.

Cut.  Voilà!  Two 60° triangles! 

Cut enough to make 64 triangles.  I like to stack them all in the same direction, points up, with the straight grain base at the bottom (very important to keep your quilt or pouch from stretching out of control).  Once you have enough, go to your design wall and set them out in a 4-row grid.   The bottom row has 5 triangles, the second has 7, the third has 9 and the top row has 11 triangles.  You will have a pyramid shape.  (Apologies, I forgot to take a pic of this step.  Tip:  DO take a pic of the final arrangement on your design wall for reference when sewing these together; I might have learned that the hard wayHere is a pic after I'd sewn the top row together. Yes, they shrink that much!

Stack your top row triangles one on top of each other from left to right so that the far left triangle is on the top of the pile of 11, and the far right triangle is on the bottom.  Take them to your machine, and set them to the left of your needle.

Take the top triangle off the pile and leave it point down.  The straight of grain side should be at the top, and the two sides going up from the bottom point will both be bias.  Take the second triangle and place it beside the first.  This 2nd triangle will be on its base, its straight of grain base.  Going up from the base are the two bias sides.  This will ensure that your rows will all have parallel straight of grain edges, preventing wonkiness and stretching.  Flip the second triangle onto the first, right sides together, and sew slowly and carefully as you have two bias edges being sewn together.  Continue on in this manner, chain piecing the entire row.  You will have 5 pairs and one last leftover triangle.  Remove the chain from your machine.

Cut apart the first two pairs, finger press the seams open, and place one atop the other as shown.  Note that the first pair, with the far left triangle in the row, will be on the bottom.

Do not cut off the little ears!  These will help to align the triangles so you will get perfect points.  The darker purple ear of the face-down triangle pair lies exactly on top of the pansy triangle, which you can't see.  The pansy triangle is the pair to the black/purple berries triangle that is face up.  Sew along the edge to make a 2-pair, (4 triangles) section.  Repeat with each pair.  Sew the final 11th lone triangle to the last pair so that is a group of three.  Then sew the 4-triangle sections together as before, still finger-pressing the seams open.  You will have this:
Once the entire row is sewn, press with an iron, no steam, press, don't stretch.
The horizontal edges should all be on straight-of-grain.  The only two bias edges at this point are the short sides.  Repeat this assembly method for each of the four rows.

This is what the back of each row will look like:
Note that I still have not cut off the ears; you will need them when joining the rows
Sew the rows together, again using the ears to align the points of the triangles.
It's hard to tell in the pic above, but the ears of the right-side-down row lie exactly on top of the ears of the right-side-up row.  Its partner ear lies along the raw edge.  You can also use the teeny triangle (it's the berry-coloured triangle you see between the mottled mauve and black/purple berries fabric where I've pinned) seam-line as your guide to sew:  go right through it as it is the top point of the triangle.  This will probably make more sense when you are sewing it.  Make two sides, either identical or different.  I made mine almost identical.

Layer one assembled side on top of the batting.  Pin or spray baste to hold the layers.  Quilt as desired.  I used Sulky Holoshimmer thread (love it) to stitch in the ditch along the horizontal seams and one diagonal seam.  Along the other diagonal I did a gentle curve.  Trim the little quilt sandwich.  This is what you will have:

Of course, you may simply apply iron-on interfacing to your pyramid side.  A third option, if you want a very stiff pouch, is to do both: quilt and interface.

I love using the zipper tabs method I first saw on the Quilted Patchwork Pouch I made, but Nancy of Pug Mom Quilts also has a great tutorial.  If you are sewing late at night or just don't feel like hopping in your car to go buy the right sized zipper, this will save your butt.  And you probably will want to always use this tab method, as it reduces bulk and gives your zipper a matchy-matchy look!

For this pouch apply your zipper tabs to each end leaving a 10.5" length of zipper between tabs.  And yes, just as Nancy says, I cut off a "big honking piece" of my zipper, since I only had a 16" one on hand at the time!
You can see the uncut-off portion of the zipper sticking out on the right"
Bag Assembly
I am a firm believer in putting a label on every thing I  make, especially gifts. If you are going to apply a label to the inside lining, now is the time to do it.  I made my own.

Layer the pieces in this order, aligning raw edges and centering your zipper with the midpoint of the bag top edge:  bag body face up, zipper face down,

and then lining face down.  Pin or baste the layers together.  It's okay that the zipper tabs are sticking out; you will trim them later.

If you usually sew, as I do, with a single-hole throatplate, change it now, (or you will break a needle, yep been there done that, more than once) and put on your zipper foot.  Sew slowly, backstitching at each end of the seam.  Open the now-encased-edge-of-the-zipper seam and carefully press to get a nice crisp edge on both the bag body and the lining.

Repeat with the other side.  It should look like this
I've peeled back the second side so you can see: lining right side up, zipper face up and bag body right side down

And like this as you are stitching (well, you might not have a quality control inspector like mine):

She's very picky and analytical.
Gets RIGHT in there...
Top-stitch on the bag body side.  You can do that step before you sew on the second side or not.  I've done it both ways without any difference.  Here, I did the top-stitching before joining the second side.  I like to put on my walking foot as there's a fair amount of thickness to deal with.  Tip:  for a nice straight line of top-stitching, open the zipper a little ways.  Sew up to the zipper stop, lift your presser foot with the needle in down position, carefully close the zipper so the stop is now behind your walking foot, and then continue top-stitching.  I also do this now when I'm sewing the bag body, zipper and lining sandwich.
A black zipper would have been much better, but the only one I had was too short...
 Here is what it looks like at this point.

For the little pull tab/handle, cut a piece of fabric 6.5" long by 2 or 2.5" wide.  Fold in half and press, and then open and fold the raw edges to meet at that pressed centre fold.

Press in half once again so the folded edges meet.  Top-stitch along the folded edges.

Baste the pull tab/handle in place on one of the bag body sections, near the zipper opening.  Be sure you do not catch the lining! (sigh...yes, guilty)  Place your pull tab/handle a little closer to the zipper edge than I did, like within that first triangle, not the second as shown here.

Now, to sew it all together.  First, make SURE your zipper is OPEN.  Then match the raw edges of the lining together, and those of the bag body together.  Pin.  Leave about a 5" opening on one side of the lining.  This is where you will turn the bag right sides out.  I put a different colour of pinhead (yellow) here so I will remember to stop/start at these points.  I've forgotten this before I was in the throes of menopause...just sayin'.  Now the ears are all cut off, but it's still easy to match the triangle points simply by looking at your quilting lines, wiggling together the two points so they meet, and dropping a pin right there.  Tip for when you get to pinning the lining: push the zipper tab fabric, which doesn't seem to have any place to go, towards the lining side, NOT the bag body side. This will make sense when you're pinning and you get to that point.

Backstitch at the beginning and end.  I use my walking foot here again.  I also use Clover pins (love 'em) not the clips because I often sew (usually slowly) over (gasp) the pins.  Tip: I also back-stitch over the place where I've basted the pull/handle to give it extra stability.  You can trim the zipper tabs now too, and trim down that corner between the bag body and lining to reduce bulk.
and now stitched.

I like to check the bag here before I box the bottom.  So, reach your hand inside the opening, and gently pull the bag body through the open zipper (you remembered, right?) and through that opening in the lining. If all looks/matches nicely, then turn it back wrong sides out to box the bottom so the bag will stand up on its own.

Line up the seams (finger press them open) of the side to match those of the bottom.  You can pinch them first and pull them out through the hole in the lining to double-check.  Pin.  Place your ruler so that you have a 2" line perpendicular to the seams.  Draw a line marking this 2" line.  Sew along it, back-stitching at each end.

Repeat with the other side.  Trim off those triangle pieces.

Do the same thing with the lining.  Now turn the bag right sides out, pulling the bag body through the hole in the lining as you did before when you checked that all was okay.  Turn in the edges of the opening in the lining 1/4" and stitch them closed close to the fold.

Ta da!  Here is your new pyramid pouch.

See why you should place the pull/handle in that top triangle?!
At first, I wasn't sure that such a narrow bottom would work.  But it's fine, and I just love how wide the top is!  You can easily see all your junk paraphernalia.

One last pic of the pyramid pouch with its prototype.  (When I was proofreading, I noticed the alliteration there! It wasn't intended, but I love it.)

This one will go to my grandson to hold his toothbrush, toothpaste and toiletries for his next visit to our house.  I didn't quilt his, but applied iron-on interfacing to the outer layer before assembly.

Bag Stats:
11.5" wide at top opening X 6" high
Fabric: scraps from my stash
Batting: Pellon Nature's Touch Cotton Batting scraps
Threads: sewn with Gutermann and top-stitched with Sulky Holoshimmer

Linking up with Oh Scrap! and Confessions of A Fabric Addict, buttons on sidebar.  And, if you make my Pyramid Pouch, I'd love to see it!


  1. Great tutorial and a great little pouch!

  2. *Snore* - Oh! Huh! What?! I'm awake now yes, did you say something?! Oh ya, I was grabbing another java, then dozed off after the first paragraph.

    LOL kidding!! Well, as a NON-quilter I'm surprised I'm awake even now LOL.

    WOW what an immense amount of work, astounds me every time. Not that I understood any of it - zipper foot, single-hole throatplate, cutting off ears (who are you anyway, Van Gogh?!) But I can still appreciate the incredible amount of planning, work and time that's gone into this, not to mention that it's your own pattern?? Amazing, good job!!

  3. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

  4. Thanks for the cute tutorial! Very clever :)

  5. Awesome! Nice and clear with great pictures. Love the purple.

  6. Sandra that pouch is so clever and cute! I especially love all those scrappy triangles! Congratulations on your feature with Cyndy! Thank you for the tutorial too - especially the photos of your quality control inspector!
    It might be my computer, or it could be that something happened to your Tutorial in between others reading it and me reading it, but from "Cutting" to "Assembly", it appears to be written in Klingon. Now, I know you are a woman of many diverse talents, but your facility with interstellar languages sure surprised me, LOL.
    Let me know if it looks that way on your computer too, okay?

    1. Hi Lara! I read the post yesterday and looked again today and it still looks written in English LOL :)

    2. Thanks Linda! I'm glad it is NOT something that went cuckoo with Sandra's Tutorial. It must be our server or something - it is that way on every computer in the house.

    3. You are most welcome! Very strange indeed!

  7. Very cute pouch and great tutorial!

  8. How cute ... and it's perfect for a little one's overnights! Your instructions make me want to stitch up a pouch!

    I'm reading this in English, but I would love to see the Klingon version ... and maybe Romulan too.

  9. I'm reading this in October 2018, and it's Klingon on my computer...


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