It has to be kawaii! Keepcup drawstring bag

The last Facebook market was so much fun. Thank you to everyone who came to browse and purchase. It’s always wonderful to connect with my regular customers, and make new(ish) things with them in mind.

One of my favorite creations for the market were these reusable shopping bag sets. Another favourite is the wristlet wet bag pouch, which I made specifically for a keepcup (reusable coffee cup) with a few utensils. I was also pleasantly surprised that my reusable sandwich wraps were popular, even with grownup fabrics.

After the market ended, I just wanted to keep making more stuff. So I made something for myself: A keepcup pouch!keepcup drawstring bag by piggledeeSquirrels in blue. So, so kawaii! (can you hear me squeal like a school girl?) I did ask myself: is it a tiny bit age-inappropriate for me to use this kiddy fabric for myself, being a 40-something grown woman and all? And the answer is, of course not! Okay, I might hesitate wearing this fabric as a garment. But for a pouch that would live quietly inside my backpack or handbag, the fabric absolutely has to be kawaii. Otherwise, where’s the joy?

keepcup drawstring bag by piggledee

This drawstring bag is just the right size for an 8-oz keepcup. I can also squeeze in a small reusable handkerchief and a child-sized fork and spoon. I’m pretty pleased how it came out. (Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with or compensated by the keepcup company. I just think they make great sustainable products.)

I also lined the bag with water-resistant nylon fabric, which I happened to have in this blue that matches the Squirrel fabric perfectly.

keepcup drawstring bag by piggledee

Plus I also happened to have this pretty blue cord that I once ordered by mistake – and now put to a good use.

keepcup drawstring bag by piggledee

Maybe I’ll make more of these cuties for my next market.  I can’t wait!

 

Autumn – and another Echino bucket tote

It’s getting cold in the Blue Mountains. I love all the seasons here, but autumn is particularly lovely. Here’s a view from my studio right now. What a glorious day!

Autumn in the blue mountains

In Japan, we think of autumn as a season of creativity and reading – a time to resurrect your brain after a mind-numbingly hot and sweaty summer. And even though the summer in the mountains is mild, I feel a surge of fresh creative energy these days!

Bucket shoulder bag by Piggledee

 

So, here’s another Echino bag in the same smaller bucket bag design I showed you last time (that bag, by the way, has sold already and is on its way to a new home in the US as we speak – woohoo!).

Bucket shoulder bag by Piggledee

How cute are these budgies? Well, they are more realistic-looking rather than “cute,” but I love them anyways. Budgies were my childhood pets growing up in a small apartment in Japan.

Echino Bucket shoulder bag by Piggledee

Etsuko Furuya’s designs are often large-scale, so they shine in larger items like this.

The natural colour of linen will go with a lot of different outfits, but I also have this print in hot pink and black.

Echino budgie fabric

It’s available in my Etsy shop now.

Polar Bear Fabric Storage Box

Here’s something super cute that I made for a customer today.

polar bear fabric storage box by Piggledee

 

 

It’s a fabric storage box! How adorable is this polar bear fabric by Japanese designer Mico Ogura? She actually designed a similar polar bear fabric last year, which had sadly sold out quickly.

But miracles do happen, and this year she again came up with this equally-cute polar bear fabric. I love all the colors, but the grey one is particularly beautiful, don’t you think? Paired with natural, off-white lining, its cuteness is subtle enough for a grownup to use.

polar bear fabric storage box by Piggledee

 

Fabric boxes are fantastic to organize things around your house. I’d think of diapers, baby clothing, kids’ toys, etc. But see, books might work well as well!

polar bear fabric storage box by Piggledee

Cook books, kids’ books, that tend to scatter around the house can be neatly piled up in one of these boxes (not that they are neatly organized in my house, unfortunately…).

And if you are wondering if I am ever going to finish that sewing pattern for these boxes, I’m very sorry! Yes I am going to finish it as soon as I have some free time. Thanks for your patience, everyone.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these boxes, they are on my Etsy shop. The polar bear one is not listed, but if you send me a message, I’d be happy to custom make one for you, too (while the fabrics last, that is – the grey one is nearly sold out!).

New fabrics from Japan

It’s a happy day when new fabrics arrive at my doorstep – particularly if they’ve taken six long weeks to arrive. Here’s are the latest additions to my sewing room.

Cactus fabric (natural)

cactus fabric (yellow) linen leaf fabric

leaf fabric insulated lunch bag by Piggledee

As Piggledee continues to grow, I am now buying more fabric in bolts, rather than a couple of meters at a time. Bolts of fabric are heavy, so they get shipped by the least costly option – surface mail. I have to say, it’s worth the wait. 

There is always an element of surprise when I first “meet” a new fabric in person. For example, the scale of the cactus print was bigger than I imagined (print scale is really hard to tell from photos). These cacti are huge! But that’s okay, I love them all the same. While they may not be suitable as smaller pouches, they’ll look stunning as bigger items, like tote bags. 

This boyish fabric also had an element of surprise – I didn’t care for it too much when I ordered it (I ordered it for boys and men), but as soon as I saw it in person, I fell in love. It’s totally cool – for women as well as men. It’s the first fabric I wanted to play with – making a glasses case and a mini wet bag. I added faux leather zipper pulls to add more manliness.

mini wet bag by Piggledee mini wet bag pouch by Piggledee glasses case by Piggledee

This leaf fabric was gifted to me by my mother a few months ago, so I already knew I’d love it. Here’s an extra-large insulated lunch bag I made with it before.

insulated lunch bag by Piggledee

My absolute favorite fabric in this shipment though, is the other leaf print.

linen leaf fabric

This one is 100% linen, and linen feels oh-so-wonderful against your skin. It also has amazing colors and drape. At nearly twice the cost of other fabrics here though, having a whole 13-meter bolt feels like having a precious treasure. I just want to cuddle the whole bolt!

I hope you like these fabrics as much as I do. I can’t wait to make more things with them.

 

 

Easter Hats

Two months ago, we sold our house in Sydney and moved to a semi-country area called the Blue Mountains. We love it here. The air is fresh and clean. The traffic is non-existent. Our new house in a bushy area is incredibly peaceful. But the move meant our kids would attend a new school – a public school. Having only experienced Steiner schools before, the new school has been as much a culture shock to me as to the kids.

For one, this school has a lot of events – and I mean a lot. Every week there is something new. Crazy hair day, cake stand sales, snake education (yes there are snakes around here), excursions, and Harmony Day dress-up. It’s hard to keep up, and I admit, I’ve failed to prepare the kids for a few of these events, much to their dismay and embarrassment.

So when the school sent us a note that we needed to “make” special hats for our kids for the Easter Parade (and oh by the way, could you also contribute cakes for the cake stand?), I saw this as an opportunity to redeem myself as a Committed Parent.

I consulted my children about the designs of their Eater hats. My 5-year-old son immediately requested a “pirate bunny” hat. My 7-year-old daughter didn’t have any ideas. So I thought I’d make her something bright and rainbow-y, because she likes rainbows. I got this Japanese hat-making book out (“Oshaberina Boshi” – or “Chatty Hats” by Yumiko Itoyama), and got to work.

Japanese hat-making book - Oshaberina Boshii

For the pirate hat, I modified this brimless hat pattern.

Japanese hat-making book - Oshaberina Boshii

I used black canvas for the hat, and dark blue canvas for the lining. I modified the pattern to make the sides wider, to make it resemble a pirate hat. Then I painted a skull-and-swords pirate symbol on a piece of fabric (yes you can laugh at my feeble attempt)…

pirate bunny Easter hat in progress

…and attached it onto the finished hat with fusible web. Lastly I made a tiny eye-patch for a store-bought bunny doll, and pinned it to the hat. Finished!

pirate bunny Easter hat finished

For my daughter’s rainbow hat, I decided on this tulip hat pattern.

Japanese craft book Oshaberina Boshi tulip hat

I used six different Kona cotton colors in pastel shades.

tulip rainbow hat in progress

Then I pinned some store-bought pastel eggs at the top for the finishing touch.  

Rainbow Easter hat finished

I was very pleased how these hats came out. And the kids seemed happy as well!

 

 

pirate bunny and rainbow Easter hats

I didn’t forget to make carrot cupcakes for the cake stand, either. 

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing

The Easter Parade was so much fun to watch. It wasn’t quite what I expected though, because other kids had truly crazy and bright-colored hats, which looked like they were made by the kids, not the parents. The black pirate hat especially looked demure and tame among the ocean of colors….

School easter hat parade

But it doesn’t matter! Because for once I felt like a Committed Parent on top of a school event. And my kids were happy to wear the hats I made, sing happy Easter songs with their classmates, and eat yummy cakes for lunch – though maybe not necessarily in that order.

I hope you all had a happy Easter weekend!

Polar Bear Tote Bags

I love the new polar bear fabric by Mico Ogura. The bears in pants and scarves are super adorable, and the print comes in beautiful shades of blue, pink, and yellow. Aren’t they great? These are insulated snack sleeves, by the way.

Polar bear insulated snack sleeves by Piggledee

But my favorite color is grey. So when a client asked me to make not one but two tote bags in this grey polar bear fabric, I knew they would turn out pretty special.

Grey polar bear tote bag by Piggledee

Grey polar bear tote bag by Piggledee

This is tote bag number one: It is a simple gusseted tote bag, but very large in size.

Grey polar bear tote bag by Piggledee - zipper viewGrey polar bear tote bag by Piggledee - pockets

The bag has a recessed zipper closure at the top. There are two inside pockets: an exposed zipper pocket, and a patch pocket. I love how the bear heads are lining up at the zipper side and on the handles!

Polar bear tote bag by Piggledee - bottom view

Here’s what the gusseted bottom looks like. 

And here’s tote bag number two!

Bucket tote bag in grey polar bear by Piggledee
Bucket tote bag in grey polar bear by Piggledee

It’s smaller than the first one, and great for everyday use as a handbag.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It has an oval bottom like my bucket diaper bags.

Bucket tote bag in grey polar bear by Piggledee - inside view

There are two patch pockets inside, and a carabiner tab on the side.

I hope these polar bears will bring my client lots of smiles!

 

Echino fabric boxes

I am a big fan of “Echino” fabrics by Japanese designer Etsuko Furuya. Her designs for this year are particularly pretty.

Photo collage of new Echino fabrics

Although my sewing room is overflowing with fabric, I could not resist ordering these prints. They arrived this week, and they were even prettier in person! I wanted to play with them right away.  The bird prints posed a challenge though, because the birdies were bigger than I thought. They are almost life sized, ready to fly out of the fabric. So I put them aside, and played with the other prints instead.

fabric boxes by Piggledee

Small fabric boxes! I thought these super bright, bold prints could be overwhelming in large sizes. But as small boxes, they exude just the right amount of impact. Put one or two on your work desk, and they’ll brighten up your space – and your mood, too – instantly. Or so I would hope.

Echino fabric boxes by Piggledee

 

Echino fabric boxes by Piggledee

green fabric box with an orange by Piggledee

They are large enough – or small enough – for one big orange or apple. Which is a great size for desktop organization. I use these boxes in my sewing room for organizing small sewing tools, address stamps, washi tapes, cut-up velcro strips… etc. They are very handy to have.

Echino fabric boxes by Piggledee bottom view

I used heavy-duty cotton for the bottom to give firm structure. I also padded the fabric for structure and cushiness. 

Echino fabric boxes by Piggledee lining view

To match the vividness of the Echino colors, I chose vivid Kona cotton colors for the lining. 

Echino fabric boxes by Piggledee

It’s hard to choose which box is my favorite – but I love this green stripe one in particular. It’s cool because you see different patterns and colors from different angles.  

Next project: what should I make with those life-sized bird fabrics?

 

Apple Cozy

If you have followed me on Facebook, you know I have started this “Sunday Funday” thing. It’s a Sunday mini market, where I make something new and offer it for sale on Sundays, directly from my Facebook page. I love how it allows me to enjoy a couple of hours of creative freedom every week, even when I’m super busy sewing to orders. I had missed a few Sundays while getting my new online shop up and running, but I’m back on track this week.

Photo of an apple cozy by Piggledee

 

This week, I made apple cozies. I had so much fun making these! We went for a drive to Bilpin this weekend, where they grow lots of apples. We saw apples everywhere, even though the apple season has officially finished. There were little cafes and roadside stands selling bags of Pink Lady apples, home-made apple pies, and apple cider.

photo of Pink Lady apples

While driving, I thought it’d be neat to have a shopping bag with an apple print. Mark (aka Mr. Piggledee) thought it’d be neat to have an individual apple bag – just for fun. So when we came back home, I began to make one – using my favorite Japanese apple fabric of course.

Photo of an apple cozy by PiggledeePiggledee apple cozy in red Japanese apple print

It took a couple of tries to come up with “just” the right size for one large apple. It’s a drawstring bag with a large flat bottom – kind of like a fabric box with a drawstring top. How cute is it? I can’t decide which I like better – the green apple or the red apple print? 

Piggledee apple cozy in green and red Japanese apple printsPiggledee apple cozy in red and green Japanese apple print

These apple cozies may not be on everyone’s list of essentials – in fact it is slightly frivolous. But I love it. It’s a happy bag, and it makes me smile when I see it. And that’s in the perfect spirit of Sunday Fundays I think. 

photo fo a row of apples

New and improved sandwich bags

Sandwich bags are one of those seemingly simple products that are, in fact, troublesome to make. Well, technically it’s not difficult to make of course. It’s just difficult to come up with the perfect design – at least for me it was. In the past I have made a zippered version like this…

Zippered sandwich bag - pink elephant

and a simple velcro version with velcro tabs at the top of the bag (the one on the right)…

Velcro-top sandwich bag - Cats

and a flap version with a single fabric like this.

Flap sandwich bag - hippos

But none of them was truly satisfactory to me. Why? Well, here are my “pros and cons” comparison notes.

Zippered Version

Pros: Neat-looking design. Food bits don’t get stuck in the velcro. Easy to maintain and wash. Probably lasts longer than velcro ones. A versatile pouch, because it’s great as snack bags (muffins, crackers, etc). Also can be used as a small wet bag, for wipes, makeup, crayons, and so on.

Cons: Fiddly to get a sandwich in and out of the bag because the zipper doesn’t open to the full width of the bag. If the zipper width is wide enough, then it’s too wide inside the bag, and the sandwich swims in it. Zipper can be fiddly to use for toddlers.

Velcro-Top Version

Pros: Nice simple design. Easy for children to use. Sandwich fits in snugly and securely.

Cons: Food can get stuck in the velcro while putting a sandwich in and out. Fluff sticks to velcro in the wash. Stitch lines for sewing the velcro shows through – not a very elegant finish.

Velcro-on-Flap Version 1

Pros: Flaps are cute. Food doesn’t get caught in the velcro as much, because the sandwich doesn’t have to touch the velcro strips while packing and unpacking. Sandwich fits in snugly and securely. Velcro is easier for kids to use.

Cons: The one-fabric design only works with non-directional prints – meaning, fabrics that have no upside and downside. The flap section was small, and it took some force to rip the velcro open. The stitch marks around the velcro strips can be really noticeable. And then there is the issue of washing velcro, and a possibly short lifespan of velcro products.

New!! Velcro-on-Flap Version 2

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags

So this is my latest sandwich bag. Is this the “perfect” sandwich bag I was seeking? I think it’s very close. Here’s the “pros and cons” assessment:

Pros: I love that I can slide a sandwich in and out of the bag smoothly, without worrying about food getting caught in the zipper or velcro tab. The sandwich sits in the bag snugly and securely – not as snugly as with a sandwich wrap, but close.

I also love the two-fabric design. It allows me to use rather special fabrics for the small flap section, while keeping the cost down somewhat by using plain cotton linen canvas fabric. I can also use directional prints this way, because the print is used only for the flap bit.

The flap section is larger than the first flap version, which adds to the cuteness factor. More importantly, the large flap allows an extra-wide space between the edge of the flap and the velcro strips. You can grab onto this bit of fabric to open the velcro easily – very child friendly.

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags - view with the flap open

If I use busy prints for the flap section, the stitch lines for the velcro are not noticeable. Pretty elegant looking overall.

New sandwich bag - closeup of the flap

Cons: The only cons here are the inherent problems associated with velcro – tricky to keep clean and wash, and the lifespan may not be terribly long. Of course, if the velcro stops sticking after a couple of years, it’s easy to replace them – so I hope people will not throw these pretty bags away!

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags - Liberty Hello Kitty bags

How adorable are these Liberty Hello Kitty sandwich bags? They are so pretty, in fact, that you can use them for other things like pens and crayons (the waterproof nylon lining comes in handy here). If I attach a shoulder strap, it’ll be such a cute little girl’s bag, too, don’t you think?

These sandwich bags will be available at my upcoming Facebook market day, and will be listed on Etsy later on.

New sandwich bag lineup

 

Dotty fabric boxes – and a mini tutorial

I started my late-night sewing session last night, intending to make more items for the Facebook auction. But instead I felt compelled to make these fabric boxes for myself. 

Two fabric boxes with brown dot print

Aren’t they pretty? I’m particularly happy about the bit of lining fabrics showing from the outside.

I had been wanting to use these brown and blue / mint green dot fabrics for some time. They are rather pricey, 55% linen, 45% cotton fabric. They have a delicious texture, and the faded-looking colors are just beautiful.

 

large fabric boxes - liningsI love how the blue color of the stripe fabric matches the color of the blue dots. I couldn’t find a suitable stripe fabric for the green version though, so I used solid green cotton.

But why was I suddenly compelled to make these boxes, you ask?

fabric boxes with masking tapes and fabric tapes insideTo put all the fabric and masking tapes I acquired yesterday, of course!

It’s a great size for keeping any little things organised around your office or workroom. Would you like to make one for yourself? It’s easy to make. Here’s a simple mini tutorial for you. This will make a box about 4.25″ wide x 4.5″ high.

DIY fabric box mini tutorial

 

 

I found that the way I made these boxes created a bit of “waste,” because you are left with 8 pieces of perfectly good 4″ square bits of fabric (four for the main and four for the lining). I was going to put those away in my scrap drawer, when I had a brilliant (or pretty obvious?) idea. I could make another box using those bits!

small fabric boxes with brown dot fabric

How cute are these little boxes?

small fabric boxes with brown dot fabric - bottom view

I joined the four 4″ square pieces together like a band, and stitched them onto a square bottom (I used heavy-duty cotton canvas in white – another leftover bits from making larger bags). I did the same for the lining, and then put the main and lining boxes together.

large and small fabric boxes with blue dots

You see the little ones are definitely smaller, but still a very useful size.

large and small fabric boxes - family portrait

They look a little like my family – two parents and two kids. Organization is not my strength – just ask anyone who has been to my embarrassingly messy sewing room. But I’m hoping that these boxes will steer me in the right direction.