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Showing posts from August, 2011

Linen patchwork tote with leather handles

The local public library carries a fantastic collection of sewing books, including the latest titles. So for the past few months I have been exposed to and absorbed the Japanese crafting aesthetic of linen and patchwork. I finally got around to making my version of a linen patchwork tote and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

There are a lot of things that I like about this bag: the patchwork uses up scraps from a previous quilting project so there is minimal waste. This also means that each side is unique and every bag will always be one of a kind. The leather handles are simple, but add to the overall design of intentional minimalism. The single rivets are also a fun design element. The bag itself is wonderfully slouchy, but still sturdy enough to hold some serious weight.

The bag is lined with some heavier weight cotton than the traditional quilting cotton and finished with a magnetic snap and finished so that it could theoretically be turned inside out.

I see many more …

Getting organized

Some people get inspired while in the shower; I get mine while idling in traffic. Ever since I started sewing and quilting, I have collected a lot of tools to install snaps, grommets, eyelets, etc. and those things have been sitting haphazardly in a shoebox. As of today, no longer.

While at Joann, I saw a bunch of vinyl pencil cases on sale for back to school preparation and I thought that they were cute, but that was it. But on the way home, I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a more organized method to store my tools and not just organize them, but to be able to see them too.

Need for organization + extra vinyl at home + vinyl pencil case = vinyl storage envelopes (eureka!)

Now my tools sit pretty in their home and it's easier to grab what I need.

Making them was super easy. Just cut the vinyl to size and sew up the sides. For a more aesthetically pleasing look, I rounded the flap corners. Sandwiching the vinyl between tissue paper prevented the envelope from ge…


A quilt in progress... I wanted to make my brother a baby quilt that he could gift to some very good friends of his. I fussy cut a fat quarter of some very cute cowboys and cows. Only a fat quarter does not a baby quilt make.

Pieced around the fussy cut blocks and made this quilt up as I went along, so putting this together is taking much, much longer than usual.

The key, I think, is keeping the color palette simple and neutral. That and lots of staring at the blocks and rearranging them over and over on the floor to group the blocks to tell a mini-story and also balance the arrangement of characters with the log cabin blocks and pinwheels.

And, of course, the baby's name to personalize this one-of-a-kind quilt. The back is finished in super soft minkee.

Update: My brother told me that when Cohen, who is 1 years-old, was given the quilt, he immediately hugged it and then put his face on it. Ahh. That makes my heart happy.

Behemoth Baby Bag

Friends commissioned me to make them a baby bag and I was happy to oblige.

The bag needed to be big enough to hold all the stuff necessary for a baby (which is a lot) and also have some room for their own things. This one finished at 16" x 12.5" x 5.5". The straps are adjustable so the bag can either be worn cross-body or over the shoulder. The bag also comes with stroller straps to hang the bag from the back of a stroller because this one will not fit easily beneath the stroller seat.

The bag needed to have lots of pockets. The back pocket is secured with a magnetic snap. The front pockets are open and pleated so that they can expand a little.

One of the side pockets is lined in flannel to hold sunglasses. The other side is elasticized to hold a bottle.

The inside is separated into two sections with a zippered divider. The side closest to the back can be used much like a regular purse: key fob, pocket zipper, open pocket, and not show in the picture, yet 3 more open po…

Sunglasses wristlet

After many years, my original sunglasses case completely fell apart. Rather than try and find a new hard case to fit the glasses, I made a wristlet that would hold the glasses plus a credit card and some cash.

This is perfect for walking around at lunch during work because then I don't have to carry a full wallet and can still switch out my regular glasses because coming out to enjoy the sun is a bit like being a mole. The sun can be so bright.

The lining is flannel to help protect the lenses.

The back has a simple pocket that can just fit a credit card and building key card.

Tutorial: Simple Lunch Tote

I ended up making some more of the lunch totes and took process pictures to create a free tutorial.

Here's how to make your own cute mini-tote.*:

*If you want to make your own tote, but a different size, I've tried to include my thought process to help you think through your own measurements..

Finished Dimensions: 7" x 8.25" x 3"

Materials Needed:
22" x 12" duck canvas, canvas, or other sturdy fabric for the bag interior1 fat quarter for the bag exterior
If your fabric has a pattern that runs vertically, but no distinguishable up or down pattern (e.g. stripes), you can cut the piece using the same patterns as your bag interior. Otherwise, you will need to cut two pieces that are each 10.75" wide x 11" tall.Small grommets or large eyelets, plus a tool to help install the grommet or eyelet30" cord, like the nylon rope used to hang laundry outdoorsScissors with a sharp, pointy end (like embroidery scissors)Clear rulerRotary cutterCutting m…

Simple lunch tote

In initially thinking about making a gift bag, I was going to design one from scratch, but then I got smarter. Several bloggers have shown how they use a pre-existing bag to make a template. Bingo.

I cut up a small paper bag that I've used over and over again because it is the perfect size to hold lunch or other small things. Then I laid it directly onto canvas and traced the size, adding a half-inch seam allowance on all sides. To the top and bottom I added a 1.5" seam allowance.

After some fiddling, measuring and back of the envelope math, I figured out that I could cut up a fat quarter into two pieces measuring 10.75" x 11" to make the exterior. The result is a perfect-sized tote bag to hold lunch or other essentials. And the canvas is nice because it lends some the bag some rigidity.

The bag finishes 7" x 8.25" x 3".

A is for Apron

For my sister's birthday, I made her the Mango Tango apron from the book A is for Apron.

The pattern could have been written better and the pattern itself differs slightly from the picture in the book. Here is what I learned:

Firstly, the pattern in the book needs to be enlarged 400%. Rather than try to figure out how to accurately enlarge the image on a copy machine and then tile the resulting sheets of paper, I went to Kinko's. The lady who was at the counter was extremely helpful. She suggested that I first photo copy the page at regular size and then run that copy through the scanner for the large format copying machine. Otherwise I would have had to rip apart the book to get the page to feed through the scanner.

A word to the wise, the large copies are not cheap. I copied three patterns in the book and ended up paying more for the copies than the book itself.

Secondly, the neck straps are a bit short so I would lengthen the straps by at least one inch on each side or try …


As in making lemonade from lemons. Which suits this quilt perfectly. Because pretty much everything that could go wrong in making this simple quilt did. For whatever reason, I was just not on my game.
Long-time friends commissioned me to make a baby quilt as a gift for one of their friends. They asked for something playful and liked the colors blue, green and yellow. I had been wanting to make a hexagon quilt so this was the perfect opportunity.

My first mistake was that I didn't have enough fabric of the main print to make 9 hexagons, so I had to figure something else out. Because my friends had asked that I personalize this quilt for the boy, I thought I would just applique the name in the extra square and be extra fancy and also add the Chinese name.

Second mistake. Because the pieces are so small, machine appliqueing the pieces made the texture way too rough for a baby's quilt. But I had already incorporated the square into the quilt row. Which meant I had to take apart …