Today I finished the second of two patchwork grocery bags started a few weeks back.
One of these bags is listed in my etsy shop and the other will be added there soon (second bag is listed here). A few other things are priority at the moment, but as soon as I have more photos of the second bag it will be posted on etsy (or get in touch).
I start with a Log Cabin patchwork layout, but sometimes break up some of the "logs" by piecing together smaller pieces and then sewing those to the foundation. I also don't adhere to a strict log cabin layout, which is basically spiraling out from one center patch of fabric. I just get the surface covered one way or another.
While piecing the fabrics together I also try to keep in mind some of the sides and bottom won't be very visible once the bag is finished.
When selecting fabrics, I pick a floral with several colors and then add in other fabrics with those same colors. In this case the brown floral is my guide fabric. I start with one squarish patch centered/off centered about a 1/3 of the way down from the top, and then work out from there until the entire surface is covered.
When you are doing this sometimes you'll misjudge how much fabric is needed, and if it is just a 1/4" or so that doesn't end up covered along an edge or two, it still works out ok. It's best to make patchwork pieces first and then if the entire surface doesn't end up covered, these pieces can be cut smaller than the dimensions listed in the pattern. Then simply cut all other pieces to the same size.
After sewing the patchwork panels, I trace the outline of the piece, and then baste 1/8" in from the outline all the way around.
The basting keeps the seams from starting to split open after it's cut, or while it's being sewn. Most of the time they don't split, but when they do it's a pain, and they might need to be resewn. So don't skip basting.
A few other things I do when making these bag in patchwork are to make both sides of the handles and the opposite side of the bag all from the same fabric, and add an extra layer of fabric inside the handles.
Keeping the other side of the bag to one fabric (ticking stripes or another striped fabric is perfect) gives it some coherence and keeps it from becoming too chaotic.
Because the finished bag is heavier with the extra layer of muslin and the patches of fabric, adding an extra layer in the handles keeps them feeling in balance with the rest of the bag.