Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

Well, that depends on how you think of it.

CaprisI had this old pair of capris that I wanted to do something with. I love the fabric, and they are in great condition, but they were a few sizes too big for me. They were my grandmother’s. I thought about tailoring them to fit me, but I don’t know much about pants, and that would involve a lot of deconstructing. Instead, I decided I could use a new purse.

LegsFirst I cut the legs off, as close to the crotch as possible. One leg will be the outside of the bag, the other leg the liner. I took the liner leg and took in the side seams 1/4 inch, to help it better fit inside of the other leg.

Reused Zipper

Zipper PocketOn the liner leg I attached a zipper pocket. I like a zipper pocket for holding my phone and chapstick inside my bag. The zipper was one that Jeremy removed from an old duffel bag he deconstructed and disposed off. I used half of the one pictured.

To make the pocket, I used my typical zipper pocket tricks (as seen here). I first attached one side of the zipper to a rectangle of fabric (cut from the butt of the capris). Then I attached the other side of the zipper to the liner leg. Usually these pockets are formed by being sewn into the seams of the bag, but in this case the side seams were already closed. I just stitched around the perimeter of the fabric with a strong zig-zag stitch. To hide the ends on the zipper I folded over a small rectangle of fabric and stitched its perimeter. You can see how unattractive the uncovered right end of the zipper looks.

Bottomd of Liner and PurseI cut these two rectangles for the bottom of the bag – grey vinyl for the exterior and capris for the interior. To determine the size of the bottom (3″ x 14″) I held open the wide end of the leg by the side seams, in a rectangular shape and measured the opening.

Bottom AttachedHere is the exterior of the bag. The open end of the bag is the ankle of the pant leg. I cut off approximately 4 inches of the open end.

StrapThe strap of the purse is also a reuse. It’s a black corduroy strap that buckles on both ends. It was on the bag I was previously using. I damaged that bag pretty bad, so I figured I would at least rescue the strap for this new purse.

The installation of the strap is pretty easy, all I have to do is attach the two buckles. I inserted the lining into the exterior of the bag (wrong sides together). I folded down the tops of both fabrics, and inserted the buckles between their folds. I then stitched along the end of the fold.

Attached BuckleHere is an installed buckle. It’s difficult to see the stitching, because I used grey thread.

Finished BagHere’s the finished bag! It’s a little strange shaped, but I like the overall look.

Inside of Finished BagFinished BagThis project was fun because it challenged me to reuse as much as I could. Also, it is a different approach than I usually take when making bags. I normally attach the lining to the exterior of the bag and end up turning the whole thing right-side out through a little hole in the bottom of the lining at the end. This time I just inserted the finished lining into the exterior of the bag.

Anyone else working with unusual materials? Trying old projects a new way?

A Little Revamp

We have a lot of problem corners in our house. That is, things get placed out of the way, in the corner, to live indefinitely.

Hot MessOne such area is this corner of the media room. On the shelf we have our routers and such, our remote charger, batteries, etc. In front of the shelf is a bench that became the drop-zone for Rock Band guitars, real guitars and their accessories. I decided it was time to move the bench, and deal with this mess a little.

Bench's New LocationI moved the bench into the empty corner of the room, where we put up the Christmas tree. This bench was in my father’s house, and thus holds a lot of sentimental value. Although the dark wood doesn’t really match the other elements of the room, we don’t want to alter it. For now, we’ll work with it as it is, in the space where we can use it.

The real problem anyways is the cushion. The cushion is from the photo booth Jeremy built for our wedding. Our colors were hot pink and black – hence the fuchsia velvet of the cushion. When Jeremy started deconstructing the photo booth, the cushion moved to this bench, because it is the same length.

Cushion Shape-upThe foam was however too wide. A great trick for cutting foam is to use an electric carving knife. Just draw a cutting line and the knife will move through the foam smoothly, like warm butter.

New FabricI chose this fabric to compliment the other green tones downstairs. I suppose it gives off a little winter-sweater vibe, but I love how graphic it is.

To construct the cover, I use the same type of techniques as when making bags (like messenger bags). Check out the book Sew What! Bags for excellent instructions. Basically, you cut rectangular panels for each side of the cushion, leaving 1/2″ for seam allowance. For the bottom of the cushion, cut two panels so that they overlap in the middle. This is where you will insert the pillow/cushion.

New CushionThe new fabric helps the dark bench blend better with the room. The hot pink was just screaming, “Look at this weird furniture that doesn’t fit in anywhere!” From far away, you can hardly tell the fabric is patterned, it just looks lime greeny.

GreensHere’s a better close-up. New cushion, bench and other colors of the room. The cushion fabric picks up the lighter green tones of the paisley in the fireplace vent covers. I have some art ideas to help further tie the darker colors all together. Hopefully more about that soon (we’ve got some serious thrifting to do).

And as for the other corner of the room?

Hot MessStill a hot mess. We’ll share our ideas for how to fix that later.

What clutter projects have you been tackling? What elements of your home need a revamp?

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Foyer Curtains

In August 2011 I made some magnetic curtains to hang on either side of our front door. A year and half later, they’re looking pretty rough:

Old CurtainsOld Curtain Close-UpThe curtains are slightly too narrow, letting light creep in along the edges. At the top the backing has pulled free, due to the strong magnets. We want curtains covering these windows for a few reasons, mainly: to protect the bamboo floor from concentrated sunlight and prevent fading; and privacy from people looking into our house. I originally chose this fabric because it tied in the blue of the living room walls, and the wood tones of the floor and furniture in the living room. Now I’ve lost interest in the fabric, and the curtains’ poor performance gives me reason to replace them.

Disassembling the Old CurtainsJeremy found me these super strong magnets to hang the curtains (since the door frame is magnetic). The magnets are so strong though that many pulled free from the glue that was holding them to the curtains. The back of the curtains is a light vinyl, chosen because it blocks out the light, and offers a little insulation. Also, it’s white, so form the outside you see white instead of patterned curtain (just like with our blinds). I picked up exactly the amount I needed from a JoAnn’s remnant bin (an excellent score). So, I disassembled the curtains so I could reuse the backing.

New Curtain ConstructionThis time I approached the construction differently. I decided to employ my quilting skills and my binding tool to attach the new fabric to the backing. I cut the fabric an inch wider than the backing, making the binding 1/2″ wide. Then I stitched along with edge of the binding with a zig-zag stitch.

New CurtainsBy attaching the backing this way the curtains will lie flatter than the old curtains. I was also able to maximize the area, making the curtains wider and longer than before. Oh, and I love the new fabric! Jeremy was unsure at first, but I think it is growing on him. The colors are rich and bold, and still tie everything together. Blue, brown, tan, greens and off white – these colors are found in the foyer, living room and media room.

Attach the MagnetsThis time I traded the super strong magnets for the adhesive magnets – from the fireplace vent covers project. I cut inch-wide strips and stuck them to the top and bottom of each curtain. I don’t trust the adhesive, so I also stitched the magnets on each end.

New CurtainsNew CurtainsMuch better! The wider curtains, with magnets on top and bottom, stay in place better and are not letting the light creep through. I was worried about the strength of the magnets, but the curtains have not fallen since we hung (stuck?) them a week ago. With the larger curtains I wondered, would it be even better to make long panels to fill the entire space on either side of the door? I think that would look really cool, and be an easy way to make a big impact in a foyer. Alas, I will not pursue this plan because we’d rather get a new door(s) without windows.

Matching PillowWith some extra fabric I made a throw pillow for the couch. Now you can better see how the colors all work together. The brown and blue birds are a match for the couch and blue throw pillows. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough leftover to make two pillows! Oh well, I love the fresh green mingling with the darker hues upstairs.

Have you reworked any projects lately? What did you modify? What did you learn the second (or third) time around?
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Hanging Dish Towels

Now that Christmas is over, I can share some of the gifts I made/gave this Holiday season. My mother-in-law and grandmother received some hanging dishtowels. The idea came when Jeremy’s mom and I were at a craft show and a vendor was selling crocheted hanging dish towels. She hinted that she needed some new ones, and suggested that I could sew instead of crochet the hanging part.

Country Kitchen Dish TowelsHere is one set of towels that I made. I was inspired by this tutorial, and made some modifications. The most important thing I learned is that one regular towel results in 2 hanging dish towels. So, it is easy and inexpensive to make a set.

Pattern piecesI started by making myself a template (on the far right). I like to make life easy by placing the pattern piece on the fold (hence why it is half as wide). Utilizing the fold allows the finished piece to be perfectly symmetrical.

Sew the pieces togetherNext take two of the pieces you cut and sew them together, right sides together (leaving the bottom open). I made my template with a 1/2″ seam allowance. For the white floral print above, I backed one side with muslin, so the print wouldn’t show through. After you sew the pieces together, trim the corners and cut the trunk part (where it gets skinnier) like you would a shoulder seam. Then turn the piece right side out and press.

Buttons and HolesNext I determined where to place the buttons. I wrapped the trunk (what do I call it?) around the handle of my oven door. From the photos you can see that the buttons are placed approximately an inch below the beginning of the “trunk”. Now its is time to attach the towel!

Finished Towels

 

Take the hanger and fold under the bottom edge an inch, press. Take your dishtowel and cut it in half – lengthwise. Now take the towel and pleat or gather it so that it can be inserted into the hanger. The original tutorial used gathering, I pleated/folded. Pin the towel in place and stitch closely to the edge.

Finished Towels Close-upI really love the finished product!

P1070803For my mother-in-law I made special hangers with loops so that they can be hung on knobs. I used the same pattern piece to make the hanger, I just removed the “trunk” and made it a true pentagon.

Snowmen SetMy grandmother got the full set – two towels and a hotpad! She loves snowmen and her kitchen is accessorized in red, so this fabric worked out perfectly! What I love is that this set was completed with a fat quarter.

This project was simple, yet fun, and provided some practical gifts. Some of the designs are available at my ETSY store. What gifts did you whip up this holiday season?

 

 
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Because You Haven’t Had Enough Owls Yet

Have you? They are just so cute, it was hard not to give in and make a cute owl stuffed animal. Here are my Pinterest inspirations:

I definitely favored the first image and pulled most of my design from its finished appearance.

Owl Pieces

Here are all the pieces – 2 bodies, 2 each of large and small circles for eyes, and the breast piece. Not pictured: the beak. I used a small square, tucking it under the circles to make it appear triangular. I really love these fabrics, especially the multi-colored circles.

Finished Pink OwlFinished Pink Owl

I was so excited about these fabrics, but this owl looks crazy. It didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped. The bottom is too flat and the eyes are too… crazy. Jeremy was confused by the pink beak.

I decided to give the owl a second try. This time I modified the body, trying to round out the bottom. I also used a less busy fabric for the bottom, orange-yellow for the beak, and repositioned the eyes.

Blue Owl Blue Owl Blue Owl Close-Up

This guy is definitely an improvement on my original design. The plain blue body allows the other fabrics to shine. The eye buttons are smaller than before and positioned in a friendly stare. The bottom is still a little flat, but this guy is definitely owl shaped.

The blue owl was a gift for my little cousin Emily, who just turned 3. I wish I could have gotten a photo with her and the owl together, but she was a little too excited about her birthday party. She did give the owl a hug and kiss though. The extra good news is that the owl, with its button eyes, fits in nicely with Emily’s Lala Loopsy and friends. Those girls all have button eyes and such – but I really don’t know what they’re about.

And the pink owl? In the closet with the rest of my reject projects…

 

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Easy Skirt Tutorial

I tried my hand at this skirt tutorial from Amy at This Big Oak Tree

I did my best to follow the tutorial step-by-step, with a few exceptions. First, the author recommends 2 yards of fabric. I was dying to use this purple fabric, which was a remnant I snagged for a few dollars at Jo Ann’s. Meaning, I was working with less than a yard of fabric. This worked for me because I did not double my waistline, making my skirt less full than the one in the tutorial. Finally, in the tutorial she leaves the zipper exposed whereas I decided to use an invisible zipper.

Check out that zipper! Okay, so you can’t. But you can see the white zipper pull at the waistline. I am just so happy that I finally figured out installing invisible zippers! Merideth’s prom dress was my epiphany.

Overall I think the skirt is super cute, but it has some flaws. Even though the skirt is not as full as the tutorial recommended, it is still fuller than I like. Also, the waist sits too low. I swear I measured my waist accurately, but it’s half an inch too loose. Oh, talking about the waistband, I should have made it wider. I skimped on the width because I wanted to make sure the skirt was long enough. In the end the skirt was too long and I shortened it to mid-knee. Le sigh. Anyways, it was easy to make so maybe I’ll try again with a few adjustments.

Halloween 2012

One co-worker often tells me that I resemble Sandy Duncan. I decided to put that to use for my first Halloween costume in four years: Peter Pan.

The Tunic:
To make the green tunic I followed the same procedure as the Kimono Tee. I am not sure of the exact fabric that I used. This green fabric was one of the many that I “inherited” from my mother. I think she might have used it to reupholster a chair. I like it because it is a knit and I was able to leave the edges raw. Underneath the tunic I am sporting a green leotard (for warmth and modesty) and green tights. The belt was my grandmother’s.

The Hat:
The hat is made from brown felt. I followed this tutorial to make my hat. The hat pictured is my third try. I had to keep adjust and re-cutting because my head is so large. The hat is a floppier than I would like. I tried starching, but to no avail. Maybe there was a stiffer felt I could have used.

The Shoes:
I made the shoes from the same felt as the hat.

I started by tracing a pair of shoes to make the soles. I used firm stabilizer to reinforce the soles.

Then I sewed a rectangle of fabric to each sole, right sides together. The rectangles had to be long enough to wrap all the way around the soles, and at least 6 inches tall, so that I could experiment. From here I worked with the shoes on my feet.

On my left foot, you can see how I have pinned the rectangle closed along the top of my foot. On the right foot you can see how the shoe should look after sewing along the top of the foot.

After sewing the tops of the shoes closed, I shaped them like so. The shape is almost the same as when the hat is folded in half. Now when you fold the flap over, they look like this:

They are surprisingly comfortable. The style of the shoes is more Disney than Sandy Duncan, but they’re fun.

I am super excited about wearing the costume to a Halloween party tonight. It didn’t take long to make and I am happy with how it turned out. Can’t wait to see what costumes everyone else has whipped up!