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Adventures in Bag Making: The Commission

Hello everyone, hope your December is going well. After I write this post I have to go catch up on all my blogging buddies’ posts as I was away from Blogtopia for a while.

A week ago I finished the Tula Pink fabric Range Backpack commission. I briefly talked about it in this post – Another Bag Making Class and Another Project.

Someone had reached out to me via the Inquiries page on my website in November and asked if I knew anyone who was selling a Tula Pink fabric quilt. They wanted to do a special Christmas gift for their sister who loves Tula Pink fabric. I reached out to a couple quilter connections who’ve also love Tula Pink fabric and have made Tula Pink fabric quilts, but none of them had a quilt to sell or time to take on a commission so close to Christmas.

I did suggest Etsy but the only nice (in my opinion) Tula Pink quilt I saw for sale was like $1000. I am not surprised as it was gorgeous and several of you in the past have shared posts about how much time and money it takes to make a quilt (and have it professionally long arm quilted); and I’ve had the same experience of course.

So (perhaps like an idiot), I offered an alternative – I could make the sister a Range Backpack out of my Tula Pink fabric scraps…how hard could that be I (foolishly) thought?

I was quite ambitious in my design at first trying to use as many small scraps as possible and here is a photo of my design wall that I shared in that previous post I linked above, showing the piecing for the backpack:

Quickly (but not quickly enough), I discovered that if I was to make the backpack this way, I would not have it finished until January.

Why?

Because the backpack was designed to be made with canvas, waxed canvas, canvas-linen blend, etc. fabric. If you want to use quilter cotton weight fabric (which my Tula Pink scraps were) then you had to QUILT with batting and canvas backing the fabric,

Gasp!

Why didn’t I read that part of the pattern before I offered to make the backpack?!?!?

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So piecing the fabric and then quilting it, was going to take forever. Plus is was getting into December and I was facing of course a challenging anniversary, as well as my own last minute projects for December (and holiday shopping, etc.). Also I was in the process of opening my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop (and will update you on that in a future post).

So I decided I was going to have to break into my Tula Pink yardage (frown) instead of just using scraps. So with that move the backpack became more expensive to make. Then with all the time I spent quilting each section (I still made it scrappy as the person requested that I use a lot of Tula Pink fabrics in the quilt) I am pretty sure if you minus the cost of supplies from what I charged for the commission, I made about 75 cents to 1 dollar an hour for my time – ha!

But it was a lesson and I will rethink commissions in the future. I did finally decide to look at it more as a “labor of love” and feel gratitude that I get to be part of a special gift for a special person. (And I got reimbursed for the cost of the supplies and for a tiny bit of time…).

Hope that does not sound too whiny. I was overjoyed when I finished the piece and could wrap it up nicely for shipping. They were going to celebrate Christmas as a family on 12/21 so with the magic of priority shipping, I was able to get it to them on time.

So here are photos from the creation of to the completion of the backpack (it feels like I lived and breathed this backpack and did a couple all nighters on it):

You can see in the photo above that although I had to quilt larger pieces of fabric to make the sections, I tried to make it more “scrappy” by creating and sewing on “patches” of Tula Pink fabrics.

One thing that I did enjoy while making the backpack was getting to use a bunch of my Aurifil threads I rarely use – very fun colors:

Well it’s all shipped off and per the postal tracking it was delivered. I’ve not heard back from the person who requested the commission and I am not sure I will get feedback on how it went when the sister opened her gift on 12/21, but we will see.

After I shipped it off, I came across this awesome quote by the author Barbara Kingsolver, and I took her advice:

Now I am working on a couple of my personal projects and relaxing and enjoying the holiday season. I am not even working on more stuff for my Etsy shop yet.