Claire’s Secret: Stack, Chop and Swap to Create Drama

Lazies, Repeat after me: stack, chop and swap! That’s Claire’s secret for creating drama. She longs to be a drama queen, equal parts attitude and attire. Today we will talk about the attitude, or design. Next week, we’ll take a look at attire.

Front and back views of the same Claire Handbag.

The Order of Things
Three fabrics make up the outside of Claire. In the first picture above, we have white for the main fabric, green for the center panel and black for the center pocket. In the second photo above, the white and green are reversed and the pocket stays the same. Same three fabrics, different placement for front and back.

The Lazy secret to this design couldn’t be easier. Remember, it’s our opening mantra above: stack, chop and swap! I have to interrupt myself to tell you how much fun it is to make Claire. I adore the process as much as her design and function.

Stack, chop and swap is immediate gratification. I can say from the experience of making two dozen Claires that seeing those fabrics switch places and become the cover is addictive. Consider yourself notified.

Here we go..

Stack: One fabric on top of the other – easy peasy.

Chop: Rotary cut a big fabulous center piece. Oh baby, nothin’ like choppin’ fabrics.

swap swap2
Swap: Then simply swap the center panels. Cool, simple, Lazy! And better yet – nothing is wasted.

Precision in the Process
Now, one of the coolest things about this – we cut both fabrics at the same time, so all of the pieces created match perfectly for being swapped and sewn back together. And your finished front and back cover pieces should be identical in size. Lazy nirvana.

Value of Rotary Cutting
Tools and technique make a difference here. If you used pattern pieces and scissors, rather than rotary cutting the six pieces above, there’s a really good chance all of the pieces would all be slightly different and not match up. This precision is one of the many benefits of rotary cutting, rather than using pattern pieces, for this type of work. If you haven’t had a chance to bring rotary cutting into your repertoire of tools, making Claire might be a great time to do so. Find your local quilt shop and get acquainted.

Next Week
We pick out some ‘clothes’ for Claire. Yes, I mean fabric. Come this June, Claire will have you sayin’ chop n swap.


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18 Responses to “Claire’s Secret: Stack, Chop and Swap to Create Drama”

  1. Glenda in Florida — May 26, 2009 @ 7:49 am

    Joan–I NEED this bag! I love the looks of Claire, and am counting down the days until I can get the pattern. I hope the June release means early in the month.

  2. Joan Hawley — May 26, 2009 @ 7:56 am

    Hi Glenda! Hang in there, honey. Claire’s due-date is June 15th-ish. I will keep you posted on her arrival.


  3. Susan — May 26, 2009 @ 7:59 am

    Thank you for another great idea. I have stacked and whacked when making my signature pillows, and love the time saving aspect. and that i can get more than one porject started at a time.
    Making your bags has re awakened the designer in me.
    I was in a slump when I discovered the Summer Tote last August. Not only did I start making bags for myself and friends, I was re-inspired in my other sewing areas.
    I used to design and make my own totes as gifts, but became tired. I am now designng a new purse that I will reveal here.
    It won’t be long before we can all get our hands on Claire!
    thanks for you lovely desings and innovative, easy and sensible patterns and instructions.

  4. Laurie Gathje — May 26, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    OHHHH…this one is another WINNER!!! How large is it going to be and is it June 15th yet??? LOL

  5. Penny — May 26, 2009 @ 8:58 am

    Oh she is going to be fun, fun, fun! I have fabric spinning in my head!

    Penny D

  6. Jean Zeiler — May 26, 2009 @ 9:49 am

    Joan, this looks like the easiest one yet! Can’t wait to make my first one. Jean : )

  7. Grace — May 26, 2009 @ 10:32 am

    Oh wow – I’m looking forward to getting the pattern for Claire! I love making purses and tote bags! Ya can’t have too many of them!

  8. Bonita — May 26, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    My family is getting together this July for a weeks vacation. Oh I can just see one to match all of my outfits. I might even be generous and make several for Christmas gifts to be delivered early. (I found fabric that has mixed drinks on it in my stash ! I hope I have enough.)

    Thanks for the demo

  9. Margaret — May 26, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    This is like waiting for a baby to be born!!! Can hardly wait for her arrival, this is certainly an event worth waiting for. That Claire needs to arrive now, or yesterday would probably have been better. Great work Joan, thank you

  10. Brianne — May 26, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

    I can’t wait for this bag!!!!! I love totes and bags and only just began sewing. These are easy to make and I love using them. Thank you soooo much!!!!!

    PS I have never hoped for a month esp a summer month to go by fast but I hope June 15th comes fast 🙂

  11. Ginny — May 30, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

    An awesome bag! I can’t wait to make this bag!

  12. Anne Weaver — May 30, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

    Great tip!! I posted a link to your tip on Craft Gossip Sewing:

  13. sylvia — June 8, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

    OK, OK, OK, Joan, you did it again!!!! love it!!!, where can i buy the fabric that u are using? please write back so i can put my order in. thank u, love u!!!

  14. Joan Hawley — June 8, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

    Sylvia, These are Belle Fleur fabrics by Karen Combs for Avlyn Fabrics. Check Karen’s blog for details here:

  15. Lesley — June 22, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

    Hi, I love your website and blog, and your bags are so neat. I would like to know if you order your name tags or make them yourself. I make bags, too, and my Bernina does a pretty good job, but not professional enough.

  16. MO — August 23, 2009 @ 8:01 am

    I have bought and going to make the Claire, I especially like the instructions on how to make and swap IF I want both of the outside’s the same. My first will be a practice try, I am making for those conservative people on my gift list.


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