Adding a Crochet Motif to a Favorite Bag Pattern

I often crochet different motifs when I find interesting free patterns on the internet so I can see what they look like, how difficult they are, and to try them out for future projects.  I recently came across a motif I really liked and I thought the sample I had made would look nice inserted into some sort of cloth handbag.  I did some searches for instructions for doing this, but didn’t come up with much.  The instructions are probably out there, but sometimes it can be hard to know the right words to use for searching for that sort of thing.  I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about this for the past couple of weeks and came up with the following method (which I am writing out here for myself as much as anyone, since I don’t always remember quite how I worked something out).

I started by choosing a pattern to use as a beginning place.  I have made several different versions of the 241 Tote bag from Noodlehead.  Because I like the shape and size of that bag, I decided to use that as my starting place.  The front panel is made from a pattern piece that is cut on the fold, so I drew both halves to have one flat piece to work with.  I also measured my motif (a free pattern from here) and made a paper template that was just the tiniest bit bigger and decided on placement on my flat pattern piece:

I decided I like it placed on the diagonal best, so I cut that area out of my flat pattern:

I then cut out the pattern piece from my outer fabric, interfacing as called for in the pattern and a piece of thin muslin. I traced the cut-out square directly onto the muslin, which would become my facing:

I pinned everything together really well (outer fabric, face up, with the muslin on top) and stitched directly on the line I had drawn:

I then cut out the center section of the square, clipping to the corners:

Then, I pulled the muslin facing fabric through the square to the back:

I then pressed this well and top-stitched on the right side to hold everything in place:

I then hand-sewed the motif into the opening:

I then added a backing layer, using the same outer fabric I had chosen for the bag. I zigzagged all around the outer edge so I could easily treat this as one piece while I followed the instructions to construct the rest of the bag:

I did choose to leave off any outer pockets, but I added them to the inside lining,  I discovered that in this pattern it works really well to use the outer pocket pieces inside the lining.  I chose to zigzag a little piece of elastic to gather the inside pocket a bit- it works really well to hold things like my phone, lip balm, etc:

I can’t wait to use this bag- I always like it when a project ends up working out at least a little bit like I imagined it  would :).


Fabric Postcards with Packing Tape Transfers

I mentioned in my last post about making packing tape transfers that I thought I might use them in a postcard swap from ihanna’s blog.  Very frequently, when I enter something like this, I end up making something very far away from my original idea.  In this case, though, I went with what had been my first idea.  The pile of postcards above are my result.  Here is an overview of how I put them together.

First, I made several packing tape transfers- check out my previous post linked above for the details.  I then pulled out my big box of hand-dyed fabric scraps left over from previous projects, dye experiments, etc., and tried to match them up with the transfers that I had.  I decided to go with a size of 4-1/2″ by 6″ and cut out what would become my base, some stiff interfacing.  I used non-fusible Peltex because that’s what I had ( I challenged myself to use only materials I already had in the house for this project):

I then cut out the fabric for the front and back of each postcard as well as a small piece of off-white muslin that I decided to use as a frame for each transfer.  Because each transfer varied in size, I hand-cut this.  Here’s a stack of all of the materials for one postcard: address-side fabric, Peltex, front fabric, muslin and packing tape transfer:

After cutting everything out, my first step was to use a couple of strips of Heat and Bond to adhere the main fabric to the Peltex.  This might have been a good place to use fusible Peltex or even full sheets of Steam-a-Seam or Misty Fuse, but once, again, I was determined to use just what I had on hand:

I repeated this with the rectangle of muslin, which I placed by eye.  I like general symmetry, but I don’t like it to be too perfect, so I don’t really measure most things like this:

I then placed the transfer on top:

For some reason, I forgot to take pictures of the next step, but it’s easy to explain.  I sewed around the packing tape transfer through all of the layers using a small-ish zig zag stitch.  I then switched thread colors to add a bit more depth and sewed around the outside of the muslin with a zig zag stitch.

At this point, I wrote  the addresses on my postcard backing fabric.  I wanted to do this before I sewed it all together so that if I made a mistake, I wouldn’t have to take the whole postcard apart to fix it.  In the past, I’ve also made fabric address labels that I ironed on after the postcard is all sewn together, but I didn’t want to do that this time. Once again, I ironed a couple of strips of Heat and Bond onto the postcard base.  Before doing this, I put down a piece of parchment paper so that there would be no chance of having the packing tape transfer melt or stick to my ironing board cover.  I don’t know if it would have really been a problem, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

I then sewed around the entire postcard with a wider zig zag stitch.  Here’s a close-up of one with all stitching finished:

A picture of all of the postcard reverse sides:

Here are a few pictures of the postcards a little closer-up:

These were really fun to make and now I just need to get some stamps to get them in the mail in the next day or two.   I’ve also been enjoying looking at all of the links showing the creativity of some of the other people participating in this swap. Check out the link to ihanna’s blog at the top of this post  to see the blogs of other swappers and a flickr pool of some of the images- lovely eye candy to me!

Sewing for Summer

Summers are usually pretty warm where I live, and the last few years, I’ve come to prefer wearing skirts and sundresses during hot weather.  This spring, I realized that my summer skirt collection had gotten pretty worn out and that I needed to make myself a few more things.  In between doing some theatre sewing and tie-dye, I’ve managed to sew up the following (some of which could have used some ironing before photographing, but, oh, well :) ) :

This dress is a linen-cotton blend.  The fabric was tangerine when I bought it.  I did a little shibori stitching on it and then over-dyed it with bright pink dye to get this sort of rose color.  The pattern is an old one that I think is out of print now.

Here is a little more of the skirt detail:

Here’s my first skirt, made from some green patterned cotton that was supposed to be part of a quilt many years ago that never actually happened.  It had “aged” enough in my sewing closet that I decided it could have a new use.  It’s made from Favorite Things “Cute Skirts” pattern, one I’ve used a few times before.

This skirt is also from a pattern by Favorite Things, this time the Belle Skirt pattern.  The fabric is some I bought last August at the beginning of the semester at a local college.  During that time, there is always a vendor that sells posters and also various fabric pieces that students use as bedspreads, wall hangings, or whatever.  I have some I use as tablecloths.  I bought this particular one with the idea of sewing it into some sort of clothing, but had trouble finding a pattern that would work with and show off the different areas of pattern.    I really love how this one turned out.

This last skirt is one of my very favorites.  It’s made from an old tired-and-true pattern from Kwik Sew (#3336), which I’ve previously made in numerous ways.  I made the shorter version and did make one change, dividing the top section from two pieces into 4 to accomodate the unique fabric.  The fabric is actually two long-sleeved tie-dyed t-shirts that I’ve had for a couple of years.  I’d loved the way the patterning came out on the shirts, but they were sort of boxy and I never, ever wore them.   They are getting much more wear now as a skirt.

And in case anyone is wondering, the backdrop is my kitchen pantry :).

Fabric Ball for a 1st Birthday Gift

This fall, I started watching a neighbor’s baby full time.  When I started, I didn’t realize how much that would change the time and energy that I have for sewing, knitting, crafting and all of that sort of thing.  As the baby has  grown and gotten more mobile, I’ve had less and less time for projects.  There’s been even less time for recording anything that I do  make, so this blog has been sadly neglected. I see that I haven’t posted anything since December, and I’ve decided it’s time to try to post a little more often.  We’ll see how that works out!  

Today, the little man that I care for turned one, and I wanted to make him a gift for his birthday.  I’d saved a link to a blog with instructions for making a fabric ball, found here:

I dug through some fabric scraps and decided to make the medium size:


I made one addition to the very-easy-to-use pattern:  I added three bells.  I made little fabric bags to hold the bells so that the ball’s stuffing can’t get wrapped around them to keep them from jingling over time.  Also, if the ball should come apart, it would make the bells a little bit more swallow-proof. Here’s a picture:


This was a very fast and simple project that I’ll be sure to make again.  My little guy loved this and I’m going to have to make some more of these in different sizes  and textures to keep at my house!

Using Rust Dyed Fabric

I’ve been enjoying playing around with some of my rust dyed fabric and thought I’d share some of it here.

I’ve been participating in an irregularly scheduled group that exchanges various hand-made postcards for a while now.  There aren’t really any restictions in our group- in the past, there’s been all fabric, mixed media, hand-made embellished paper, photography, mini-paintings- all sorts of things.  My offerings usually involve something using hand-dyed fabrics.  I decided that this time I’d use some of my rust dyed fabric.  Here are the eight 4 x 6 postcards I sent out:

Here are close-ups of a couple of them:

They were made by cutting two of my saw blade prints into quarters.  I then appliqued on a portion of some of the prints made with washers.  The edge fabric is rust dyed and then over-dyed in brown tones.

Because I had to do some trimming of my appliqued shapes before sewing the postcards to their backing, I ended up with some interesting small strips of rust-dyed fabrics.  I really liked the way they looked and wanted to find a way to use them.  Then I happened to see the link to a small wallet pattern on somebody’s blog and thought it would be a perfect way to use up my fabric strips.

Here are the results:

Front of wallet:

Back of wallet:

Inside of wallet:

It’s just a small thing, but it makes me happy to see it in my purse.

The wallet pattern can be found here:

Wallet Pattern

You can see that I left off the vinyl outer pocket and the key chain tab.

And this little wallet pattern also came in handy this weekend when my daughter needed a birthday gift for a friend.  We sewed it up out of some fabrics in our stash Anna thought her friend would like.  We then filled it with (as my son says) “the gift certificate to anywhere”-cash.  It made a nicer presentation than just sticking some money in an envelope :).

Helping With Children’s Theatre

My daughter has been part of a local summer children’s theatre program for the past 6 years.  The program is directed by a good friend of mine, and my daughter loves it.  I love being involved, too.  I always sew a few costumes, help the kids tie-dye cast shirts (hot pink this year!), help with the kids backstage, help sell treats at intermission or do whatever may be needed at a particular time.  I love getting to know the kids and the other parents.  Everyone is tired by the end, but it’s a great experience.  The last performance was yesterday, so it’s the usual day after filled with mixed emotions here- happy for a rest, but sad that the experience is over.

This year’s show was a fairy tale set in the 1950’s with lots of fun costumes and music.  My daughter and her friend were cast as UPS drivers, and the original costume plan was to just borrow some clothes from the local UPS office.  My daughter decided that she wanted to have a fun swishy 50’s skirt, so she proposed that we create a 50’s version UPS costume.  The director was fine with that idea, so we went with it.  Here is the result (the photos are a little dark and fuzzy, but give the idea, anyway!):

My daughter is the one on the left in both pictures.

After yesterday’s final performance, there was a cast party/potluck.  If there is an event of any sort, my daughter likes to make and decorate a cake.  She had very little time to make these cakes, so they weren’t as elaborate as her original vision.  I think they turned out very cute, though. They are both decorated with chocolate fudge frosting and sundrops candies.

Here’s the juke box cake, made from a 9 x13 cake with half of a round cake added to one end:

And here is the record cake, made out of the extra round cake:

Tie-Dyed Sock Monkey

Just before Christmas, my daughter decided that she wanted to make my nephew a sock monkey as a gift. She decided that she wanted to use tie-dyed socks rather than the usual red-heeled brown ones, so we dyed up a couple of pair unevenly in shades of blue and purple.

I made a sock monkey several years ago and remembered most of the basics, but I found that the instructions from were also very helpful.

We only had to make a few changes to use our hand-dyed socks. We liked the colors of the right side of the ribbed cuff part of the socks, but preferred the colors and fuzzy texture of the wrong side of the sock for the rest of the body. After a bit of brainstorming, we decided to try cutting the socks apart and sewing them back together to get the look we wanted. Here a few pictures:

The cut pair of socks:

Sewing the new inside to the new outside- I used a narrow zig-zag stitch for this:

The new “wrong side:”

The new “right side:”

And here’s one more picture of the finished monkey:

My daughter did quite a bit of the sewing and I stepped in to help on some tricky parts. Mr. Monkey was finished just in time, on Christmas Eve. These pictures were taken quickly in very bad light and we didn’t get any pictures after we put some clothes on him, but they give the general idea of what our monkey guy looked like. He was a big hit with my nephew, which made all the last -minute sewing worthwhile!

Jalie pattern sewing

I’ve been playing around some more with the Jalie patterns I ordered a few weeks ago. This one is Jalie #2787, this time made with sleeves. The fabric was formerly 3 old t-shirts which I dyed during a recent tie-dye event we had in our front yard with a bunch of the neighbor kids.

purple shirt

The next one is Jalie # 2682. This was the first time I made this pattern. The fabric for this was a dye experiment that I was unsure about. I figured it was good fabric to try out a new pattern as I wouldn’t be out much if the fit needed more adjusting. I ended up loving the result. I did change the sleeves on this, using the bell sleeves from the previous pattern as they just seemed to go with the tie-dye more than straight sleeves would.

Here is the front:

tie-dye front

Here is the back:

tie-dye top back

For both shirts, I used the pattern size that matched my bust measurement for the width and cut the pattern two sizes smaller for the neck and shoulders. I can’t wait to make both of these out of some better fabrics, although both of these will definitely be part of my fall wardrobe once it cools off enough here to wear long sleeves!

Recycled Fabric Skirt

On Saturday after shopping at the local Farmer’s Market, I checked out our Goodwill store. I seldom have much luck finding clothes there, but I’ve recently started thinking about finding clothing that I can re-make into something that’s more my style rather than finding actual clothes. On this trip, I found a really nice outfit for my mom, a nice piece of knit fabric for a fall top and a knit dress with an ugly style that was made out of fabric I liked. It was definitely a successful trip.

I finished the skirt made out of the ugly dress this morning. It’s made from a Jalie pattern that I was trying out for the first time. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It’s comfortable and was very fast and easy to sew. It does need a different shirt than the one I’m wearing in this picture, though!


Sewing With a Puppy

I got some new Jalie patterns in the mail yesterday and decided that I would try to trace one and try to get it cut out in the afternoon, when our puppy is usually sleepy.  Both kids were gone, so unfortunately, they couldn’t distract him for me.

Felix ( just over 4 months old now) decided as soon as I spread out my sheet of pattern pieces that he would helpfully like to sleep there.


I did manage to trace the pieces I needed by pushing him to various parts of the pattern I wasn’t using right then.  It was very comical, but it somehow worked.

I did manage to cut out my fabric, which in this case was 3 recycled t-shirts that have been sitting in a bin for several years, left over from a past job.  This pattern is Jalie # 2787. I’d never made any patterns from this company before, so wanted to test the fit before using  it with “good” fabric. I have some fitting issues, and made some guesses as to what needed to be changed- basically, I cut the neck and shoulders a couple of sizes smaller than the side seams.  I also shortened it a bit as I’m both short and short-waisted.  I figured I’d start with that and make further changes from there.  I am really happy with the fit that resulted- I’ll definitely be making this pattern again, as well as trying other patterns from this company.


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