Tag Archives: sewing projects

Sew Busy: Embroidered Tote Bags

Sometimes when I start on a craft project, I have a hard time stopping. Pacing is not really my thing. A few weeks ago, Big Sis came down for a weekend and I dragged out a handful of embroidery ideas I’d found on Pinterest, along with a few fabrics to pair them to. Once we gathered the supplies to pull it all together, I became obsessed. Like nine bags in a week obsessed. Intervention, anyone?

Now I’m not crazy. There is a story behind my stitching. These lined shopping totes are intended for our annual Hoegarden Weekend, that magical time when the females in our family gather to shop, antique, play board games, cook, snack and break out the croquet mallets. Here’s a peek at what I’ve been up to, and who’s already claimed what.

The “How I Roll” Camper Bag
Camper Bag

Camper Bag close-up

Sister #3 has already laid claim to this one, sight unseen. She has a thing for campers and as soon as she heard it was in the works, she called dibs. I love the colors – so whimsical and fun.

The “Runs With Scissors” Bag
Runs With Scissors Bag

Runs With Scissors Bag Detail

I made this one with Mom in mind. As a life-long quilter and seamstress, it suits her to a T. She has spent a lifetime teaching the five of us every type of craft – from knitting to sewing to embroidery to, well you name it. Red is her color, and this fun bag will be perfect for transporting supplies back & forth to her Cozy Quilters meetings each Wednesday. Hope she likes it!

The “Make A Wish” Dandelion Bag
Dandelion Bag

Dandelion Bag close-up

This one is mine. I love the color & patterns in the print, but most of all I love the simplicity of it. I’m not letting this one go, no matter how hard they wish.

The “Nerdy Hooter” Tote
Owl Bag

Owl Close-Up

I didn’t name this one, my daughter did when she laid claim to this bag. She fell in love with this cute, sassy owl. The bag is lined in a cute owl print, as well. As a first grade teacher, her class will love it. And it’s large, which makes it perfect for bringing her work home each night.

The “Sleep Under the Stars” Bag
Camping Under the Stars Bag

Camping Under the Stars close-up

I made this one with our Baby Sister in mind. She’s always loved camping, and with her son in Boy Scouts, they get the chance to practice their camping skills often. I especially love the animal print. Check out their cute chevron tails! If The Baby wants this one, she’d better mark her territory quickly.

The “French Knot Flowers” Bag
French Knot Flowers Bag

French Knot Flowers Detail

So…many…knots! But I love how the flowers turned out. I like to think of them as firework flowers. As a button enthusiast, this one makes me happy. The bright colors of the bag and lining are so cheerful.

The “Bee Happy” Bag
Bee Happy Bag

Bee Happy Detail

Speaking of happy…this cute bee was one of the first bags I tackled. To make the wings stand out, I painted a thin layer of iridescent opal fabric paint before stitching on the details. Extra layers of thread on the bee body make it slightly 3-dimensional and the colorful floral print seemed a natural choice.

The “Don’t Bug Me” Bag
Chevron Bug Bag

Chevron Bug Bag close-up

Bees don’t have all the fun. This little chevron cutie is paired with a vine & flower print and was inspired by the tiny bugs in the print. The eyes are vintage gemstone buttons scored at an estate sale this summer. Too cute.

The “Let’s Get Swept Away” Bag
Swept Away Bag

Swept Away Close-Up

And last, but certainly not least, this adorable ‘swept away’ bag was made with my niece (K) in mind. Big Sis thought her baby would love it. There’s so much promise in the design, and so many opportunities in life to get swept up in. It’s not just a bag, it’s a motto. No pressure, K. You can choose another bag if it speaks to you (even though she’s blonde & adorable like you).

Swept Away Detail

I got totally swept up in this project, and I’m not quite done yet. Big Sis is working on her own embroidered front panel featuring a vintage bicycle, and once she’s done she’ll send it back so I can finish it to match the others. There are also plans to make small bags for our two littlest girls (both 5 years old). Four generations of crafty females in our family make me so proud to be a part of it.

What was the last craft project you got swept up in? -jeanne

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Getting Crafty with Pin Cushions

There’s a bee in my bonnet – Lori Holt’s Bee In My Bonnet blog. It’s spectacular. I often drool over her beautiful website with its plethora of quilts, her line of custom-designed fabrics and patterns, and adorable craft tutorials.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Finished Lawn Chair Pin Cushion

This lawn chair pin cushion tutorial is one of my favorites. It starts with a metal lawn chair candle holder sourced from the dollar store. Mine is a vibrant shade of teal. From there, you just need a few basic items from the craft store.

Not pictured - loose quilt batting (a.k.a. fluffy stuff).

Not pictured – loose quilt batting (a.k.a. the fluffy stuff).

I love this bright argyle print. It’s perfect for my tiny teal chair. To start, I measured the width and length of the chair. Stitching around three sides, I then turned it right-side-out and stuffed the ‘seat’ with batting. A quick stitch across the width of the cushion helped divide the seat from the back. The seat gets twice as much batting so the pins have something in which to rest. The back of the cushion gets a light stuffing and then the top is stitched shut.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Lawn Chair Pin Cushion - Overview

To keep the cushion in place, I opted to stitch a color-coordinated ribbon to the back of the cushion and tie it to the chair. It can be hot-glued into place, but I opted for a ribbon so I can use it as a candle holder or blog prop at any time.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Lawn Chair Pin Cushion Collage

The last small detail, and I do mean small, is the button tufting on the cushion. Using tiny white buttons from the craft department at Hobby Lobby, I used embroidery thread to attach them at intersecting lines on the argyle print. Pulling the buttons tightly and stitching them down at the back creates that cute tufted cushion detail. And you don’t have to worry about the stitching showing on the back because the metal covers it. Perfect!

Pin Cushion Crafts - Button Detail Close-Up

Okay, before I let you go I have to show you one more cute pin cushion idea I saw on Lori’s Instagram feed. She made a tiny travel-size pin cushion out of plastic Easter eggs. For real! They could not be cuter, so of course I had to try it. Tis the season, after all. Here’s how mine turned out.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Easter Egg Pin Cushion Collage

Those glittery Easter eggs are from WalMart. I love the colors and texture. The fabrics are remnants from my fabric basket. This one it just too easy. To make, cut a 4″ circle of a color-coordinated fabric for each egg. Stuff it with quilt batting and pin or tie it into a ball. Use a glue gun or quick-drying craft glue to glue it into the bottom of the egg and allow it to dry completely. Once dry, add pins and presto! A tiny portable pin cushion you can pop in your pocket.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Easter Egg Travel Sewing Kit

I went a step further and added a few safety pins and two needles pre-threaded with tan and black thread to convert it to a portable sewing kit. I can toss this little gem into my cosmetic bag for travel and never have to worry about losing a button again. Even better, these would make perfect gifts for a Ladies Only weekend. Thanks for the inspiration and tutorials, Lori!

Pin Cushion Crafts - Easter Egg Pin Cushions - Dozen

If you love to get crafty or just appreciate true creative genius, visit Lori Holt’s Bee In My Bonnet blog. The links to these tutorials are imbedded above, or can be found by clicking here:

Lawn Chair Pin Cushion Tutorial at Bee In My Bonnet Co.
Apron Water Bottle Cover – Bee In My Bonnet Blog
Easter Egg Pin Cushion – photo on Lori Holt’s Instagram feed

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Crafty Recycling: A DIY Toddler Dress

Our beautiful firecracker of a granddaughter turns two next month. Can you believe it? I can’t. She’s changed so much over the past few months. Her language skills have improved. Her dancing skills have improved. Her patience at meal time has not improved, but nobody’s perfect. She’s just the sweetest, funniest, spunkiest little cutie-patootie ever. Yes, I am biased.

One of my favorite hobbies is making stuff for the grandkids. I usually have one project or another going for them, which brings me great joy. This week, I was cleaning out some old clothes when I found an old men’s underwear tank. You know the kind… your grandfather probably wore them under his dress shirts. I threw it into the trash can, even though it was barely used, then pulled it right back out and thought “What a waste. There’s got to be a way to recycle that.” It was so soft, it just begged to be turned into something useful. I chose to covert it into a lightweight summer dress for little Lilly Bug. All it needed was some “taking in” and some embellishment to girly it up a little.

Here’s what I did:
1. I cut the shirt in half, horizontally, about 6″ below the front neckline.
2. I folded the back side of the top over and stitched it down (see below).
3. I pinned the shoulders and cut off 1 1/2″ to shorten, then re-stitched them.
4. I folded the top of the “skirt” down 3/4″ and stitched it to finish the edge.
5. I pinned the top back onto the bottom, with the “skirt” overlapping the top.
6. I stitched the two pieces back together with a zigzag stitch so it would stretch.
7. I pleated the sides to take them in & stitched them along the top of the skirt.
8. I ironed a cute print onto 2-sided fusing and cut out 3 flowers (freehand).
9. I did the same thing with a green print and cut out stems and leaves.
10. I peeled off the fusing paper and ironed the flowers & stems into place.
11. I used a zigzag stitch to stitch/embellish the flowers, stems & leaves.
12. I stitched a red bow to the back, just to jazz it up a little.

The details - front, back and hem. All it takes is a cute print, fusing & buttons. Click anywhere on the photo to enlarge, then hit your back arrow to return.

Cost: Zero dollars
The shirt was recycled, and the fabrics, ribbon and buttons came from my scrap piles. And now Lilly Bug as a super soft, lightweight little dress. Or a nightgown. I’ll let Lilly Bug decide if this is day or evening wear. It’s a girl thing.

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Craft Tutorial: DIY Camera Strap Cover


A few days ago, I posted this photo of a camera strap cover I made for my DSLR camera. Several of you expressed an interest in learning how to make one. So, as promised, here is my attempt to post a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own basic camera strap cover. I’ll warn you: I have very little experience explaining this type of thing, so bear with me. I really hope this makes sense.

Supplies you will need:
Fabric, cut into two 5″ x 28″ strips
One piece of 2-sided fusible iron-on web measuring 4 1/2″ x 22″
A spool of thread in a color that matches your fabric
A handful of straight pins
An iron & ironing board, sewing machine and scissors

On an ironing board, lay out both strips of fabric and press them to remove all wrinkles. I chose this cute foodie fabric because I dream of becoming a better food photographer some day. Hey, you can’t stop a girl from dreaming.

Place one strip of fabric face down (good side down) and center the fusible web on top. Center the fusible web horizontally and vertically (it will not be as long as the fabric, which is fine). If you are using a 2-sided fusible web that has paper on one side, place it paper side up! You don’t want to melt this stuff onto your iron.

Press the fusible web to fuse it to the first strip of fabric. Once it has cooled, remove the paper backing.

You should have approximately 1/4″ of fabric showing at the top and bottom of your fabric strip. Fold that 1/4″ strip down over the fusible web, and press it so it lays flat. Be very careful not to touch your iron to the fusible web, or it may melt onto your iron. Do this on both the top and bottom edges.

Take your second (non-fused) strip of fabric and lay it out on your ironing board with the good side facing the board. Place your first strip of fabric (with the fusible web) on top of the second fabric strip, with the good side facing up. Center it vertically so that there is approximately 1/4″ or so sticking out on both the top and bottom edges, as shown in this next photo.

Using your iron to press the hem into place, fold the unfinished edge of the bottom piece under – aligning it with the hem of the top piece. Working horizontally from side to side, press the bottom 2″ of the fabric strips to fuse the two pieces of fabric together.

Now turn the unfinished edge under on the opposite side of the strip, working horizontally from side to side, and press it into place so that the edges on the other side are aligned. You’ll want to press this 1/4″ edge under all the way out to each end of the strip, even though the fusible web does not go out to each end. At this point, you’ll have one 5″ by 28″ band of fabric with pressed edges along the top and bottom, and unfinished edges at the ends. Once your fabric is pressed and fused, you’re ready to work on finishing those ends.

At this point, check both sides of your fabric strip. Does one side look better than the other? If it does, use that as your “finished” side and place that side face down on your ironing board. This is where I take a quick measurement for length. Place your actual camera strap next your fabric strip, centering it to determine how much extra length you have on each end. What you want is about 2″ of fabric past the end of your camera strap (you should be measuring from the edge of the woven strap, not the leather end). If you have more than 2″ of fabric past this point, just cut it so that the overage measures 2″.

To finish both ends, fold the unfinished edge in approximately 3/4″ and press, then turn it under again another 3/4″, and pin it in place.

Left photo: the first 3/4" fold; Right photo: the second 3/4" fold

On your sewing machine, set your stitch to a straight stitch (standard default setting on most machines). Using a 1/8″ seam allowance, stitch a rectangle to secure both folded ends of your fabric strip. That folded edge will be inside the camera strap cover so that only the stitching shows on the outside.

Moving back to your ironing board, fold your fabric strip in half length-wise so that your “good side” is now facing out on both sides of your 2 1/4″ strap cover, matching the edges as perfectly as possible. (Remember: your folded ends should be facing the inside of the strap cover now.) At this point, I like to actually lay my camera strap inside the folded cover to make sure I have enough room for my seam allowance. It should fit, but I like to have visual confirmation before I stitch it down. Once you’ve checked to make sure it fits, remove your camera strap, then press and pin the entire length of your camera strap cover.

Moving back to your sewing machine, stitch the entire length of your pinned seam using a 1/8″ seam allowance.

I like to sew the first 1/2″, then use my “reverse” stitching feature to back up over that first 1/2″, then move forward again – just to really secure the edge of the opening and make sure the seam doesn’t accidentally rip out when taking it off and on your camera strap. Better safe than sorry, I think. Once you’ve sewn the entire length of your pinned seam and you’ve secured both ends to keep them from ripping out, remove the pins and sew once more, right over the top of the same stitching you just did. Double-stitching the length of your strap cover will prevent it from ripping out or coming unsewn after multiple sessions of pulling it on and off your camera strap. Once it’s finished, it should look like this:

Congratulations! Your camera strap cover is now finished. If you’d like, throw it on the ironing board and give it one final press, then you’re ready to put it on your camera strap. The easiest way I’ve found to pull your camera strap through your new cover is to use a ruler with a hole in one end. Using a piece of twine or embroidery thread, tie your camera strap to the hole at the end of the ruler.

Feed the opposite end of the ruler into the camera strap cover, until it pops out the other end. Pulling gently on the ruler, thread the strap through the cover.

You may have to help it start through when the widest part of the strap starts to go into the cover. Sometimes the edges can get caught on the stitching. Pull the camera strap through the cover until each end is sticking out evenly.

If you want to make a 2-sided (reversible) camera strap cover using two coordinating fabrics, cut each fabric into a 3″ by 28″ strip and stitch the “right sides” together lengthwise. Press to flatten the center seam and use that new 5 1/2″ strip as the “outside” side of your camera strap cover. For the “inside” of the strap cover, use either of the two fabrics you chose, cut to the original 5″ by 28″ length. If you like to match fabric patterns, making a reversible cover can be a lot of fun. Here’s a sample of the covers I’ve made so far. Today’s tutorial version uses one fabric, but the other two are reversible. Now I can change my camera strap covers to suit my mood or my outfit. {Note: I’m totally joking here. I am neither high maintenance nor high fashion. Not even close!}

A quick note about 2-sided fusible web: if you’re unsure which type to buy, I’m including this photo of the package I purchased. It is 2-sided fusible web with a paper backing on one side, which makes it much easier to iron on. This package came in 9″ x 11″ sheets, which I cut in half. I used two 4 1/2″ x 11″ strips. Fabric and craft stores sell iron-on fusible web in many different forms and sizes. All you really need is one strip that is 4 1/2″ wide by 22″ long.

If you have any questions or need any steps clarified, please post a comment and I’ll respond as quickly as possible. Now hit the fabric store and start crafting. And send me a link to any photos you post of your new camera strap covers!

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When opportunity knocks…you should like totally make a super-cute tote bag!

JoAnn’s Fabrics is one of my regular haunts. I like to pop in there often to see what I can dig up. I just found out my local JoAnn’s store is moving, and they’re clearing everything out of the old store. Last week, I found upholstery samples on the clearance rack for $1 each. Now you may be thinking, “NanaBread, why on earth do you need upholstery fabric samples, even for $1 each?” Well, I’m proud to say that I was blessed with my mother’s “artsy fartsy” gene, so I’ll tell you exactly what I was thinking:

• Upholstery fabric samples are pre-cut into 18” squares
• All 4 edges of the squares are already finished (serged)
• Upholstery fabrics are usually a heavier grade of fabric
• There are usually multiple samples of the same fabric
• If I can find 2 of the same fabric, I can make a tote bag
• Two squares for each tote bag = $2 per tote bag

With the addition of some woven belting in coordinating colors to use as handles, I was off to the races. I found at least 8 matching pairs of fabric samples, which means I can make 8 tote bags. I picked up another yard of upholstery fabric so I can make a total of 10 bags. I’m planning to give them as gifts for our annual Hoegarden Weekend in March, so I’ll need 10 bags. If you’re not familiar with Hoegarden, it’s our “girls only” family gathering named after a beer and held each March. It’s 3 glorious days of shopping, eating, board games, make-overs, one-handed croquet, chocolate and cocktails. Sorry, mom, sisters, nieces and granddaughters – if you’re reading this, the gift cat’s out of the bag. The tote bag! Get it? Hello? Anybody there? {crickets chirping}. Ahem….so back to the tote bags. Here’s how easy it is to make an upholstery sample tote bag, just in case you find a good clearance sale in your area:

1. Start by ironing your fabric squares
2. Turn the 2 squares with the “good sides” facing each other & pin 3 sides
3. Stitch the 3 pinned sides together; I like to go around twice for extra strength

4. Turn your bag right sides out and press the side seams to flatten them

5. Lay your bag down flat and cut off the top 2” (the unsewn side is at the top)
6. Turn the 2” piece inside out and pin it to the bag so the right sides are facing each other and the cut edges are at the top of the bag; pin them together, matching them at the outside seams
7. Cut the woven belting into two 22” straps and pin them into the edges of the bag for the handles, making sure the handles are between the 2 pieces of fabric
8. Stitch around the entire top of the bag

9. Turn the top edge of the bag out and iron to flatten the seams
10. Turn the edging inside and pin into place

11. Hem the top of the bag to hold the edging and handles in place (I like to use 2 hems, ¼” apart)

12. Fold the bottom corners up 1” and pin them to the sides of the bag, matching the side seams again; stitch the corners in a triangle to create a wider, flatter bottom to your bag; press the entire bag one last time to finish

That’s it! Each bag took approximately 30 minutes to complete. If you have your woven belting pre-cut into 22” straps, your iron on and ready to go, and you’re using the same color thread for each bag, you can do it in 20 minutes. For a bonus, stitch a coordinating colored ribbon to the inside edge of your bag and attach a metal swivel hook to hold your keys. They’re super handy and only $1.50 at Home Depot, which STILL keeps your cost under $5.00 per bag.

To re-cap: that’s 2 upholstery fabric samples for $1 each, woven belting for $1.50, a key hook for $1.50, thread I already had in my sewing room, and 20-30 minutes to stitch up each bag. And just like that, you have a one-of-a-kind heavy-duty super-cute tote bag for only $4 … a tote bag that would easily sell for $20 in stores. Now that’s my kind of crafting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I absolutely love it when I can be creative and cheap at the same time. And I must be on to something, because I’ve laid this out and described the process to at least 5 other women at JoAnn’s since I started this project, and each time I do, they take off running for the upholstery fabric sample racks. Sometimes the best projects just fall into your lap. Like I said, when opportunity knocks…

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