Fabric box pattern – coming soon!

It’s been years since I wrote pattens for an insulated lunch bag and drawstring gift bag / mini towel. I had lots of fun with them and had plans to do more patterns, but had since been struggling to find the time (I know, excuses, excuses….). Finally though, I’m working on another pattern – this time fabric boxes elephant fabric box by piggledee   Why fabric boxes? Well, everyone loves them. They are not only useful, but they instantly brighten up any space in your house. The boxes are also a snap to make once you get the hang of it, and the satisfaction level when you make one is immense. Trust me. You can’t just make one. Echino fabric boxes by Piggledee Actually I have written a mini tutorial on a fabric box before, but this time I’m using a different construction method, which is quicker to cut, sew, and wastes less fabric. I’ll be offering several size options, but more importantly, I will show you how to draft your own custom-size box.  Here are some sneak peak of the pattern-making process. Aren’t these bright fruity fabrics gorgeous? They are my current favorite, by Cloud 9. They are organic cotton corduroy, and they are great for zakka sewing. I’ll write more about them in another blog post. fabric box tutorial photo by Piggledee fabric boxes for new pattern by Piggledee   Here are my kids “helping out” with a photo shoot. Can you guess what they were bribed with? kids helping out with photo shoot Piggledee kids helping out with photo shoot Candy, of course! fabric boxes by Piggledee Would you like to know when the pattern is ready for purchase? Please sign up to receive an email notification of my blog post, and/or newsletter! Both signup boxes are at my front page. With the Facebook reach rather dodgy these days, I’d really love to keep in touch with you on this blog.  cloud 9 fabric boxes for Ppiggledee pattern Stay tuned!

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.

 

Pattern Preview – Drawstring gift bag and a mini towel with double gauze

I am very excited to share that my next sewing pattern is nearly finished! This one is for a lined drawstring bag and a mini towel using a type of fabric called double gauze, and I wrote it with near-total beginners in mind. I love that it has two projects in one pattern. A beginner can learn the basics of sewing by first making the super-easy (but cute and useful) mini towel, and then move on to make the drawstring bag to learn the basics of bag making. And when you are finished, you can put the mini towel inside the drawstring bag, and what a perfect handmade gift that would make a new baby! 

Lined drawstring bag pattern - page one

I chose to feature double gauze in this pattern, because it is such a beautiful fabric for babies and children. It’s a popular fabric in Japan, where you can find them in so many adorable prints.  Unfortunately though, the popularity has not yet spread to the Western world. It’s a matter of time I’m sure, but I wanted to help spread the love of this soft-as-air fabric. Of course, you can substitute other materials for double gauze if you don’t have access to it, but I really hope you’ll give it a try some day. 

The pattern has a section on how to work with double gauze, and throughout the instructions there are tips on sewing with double gauze. So even if you are a more accomplished sewer, you might find this pattern interesting just for the information on double gauze.

This pattern, like my previous lunch bag pattern, has very detailed instructions with large, clear photos. Here’s a sample page from the mini towel section.

Lined drawstring bag pattern - sample instruction page

The drawstring gift bag is slightly more challenging, but is a perfect second project for a beginner to gain confidence in sewing. The resulting bag is beautiful because it is fully lined, and the ruffle top is particularly sweet as a gift bag. Once you make the gift bag, you can use exactly the same technique to make a larger laundry bag, or shoe bag, or lots of other kinds of drawstring bags. 

The pattern is being tested by six lovely volunteer testers right now. Four of them have already finished them this week, and have kindly sent me photos of their creations.

Pattern tester's finished bag and towel 1

This is Deanne’s creation. She had only one sewing lesson prior to making these items for me, so I’m so pleased what a beautiful job she did. She was able to follow the pattern without asking me a single question about it. So proud of you, Deanne!

Pattern tester's finished bag and towel 2 - Koala print

Pattern tester's finished bag and towel 3 - pink rabbitThese are the bags Sarah (navy koala) and Kristy (pink rabbit) made. They are not exactly beginners, but am very grateful for their help with pattern testing. 

drawstring bag by Erika

 

Lastly, I LOVE this bag Erkia made. She chose her own fabric (how adorable is the goldfish fabric!), so this is not double gauze. You can see the pattern works perfectly well with other types of fabric. 

I’m still waiting to hear from two more pattern testers, but as soon as their feedback comes through, and I revise the pattern, it’ll be up on my Etsy and Craftsy stores. 

 

Tutorial: Mother’s Day apron

My mother loves aprons. She adores them so much that she wears them pretty much all the time at home. I haven’t worn an apron myself since my pastry chef days, but doesn’t it look cute on my mother? This is the apron I made for Mother’s Day this year (along with a few placemats using the same fabric), using a lovely cotton linen blend canvas from Japan with drawings of vegetables on it.

mothers' day apron

 

Are you an apron fan? Or maybe your mother is? Then it’s really easy to make, even without a proper pattern. Just use whatever apron you already have and like, and make a pattern from it – I’ll show you how.

Step 1: Copy a pattern from your favorite apron.

Press your favorite apron well, and place flat on a large piece of paper. I’m using a thin tissue paper for pattern tracing, which you can buy at a sewing supply shop. You can use any large piece of paper you have, of course, but having this semi-transparency helps in the step below. 

making an apron pattern from an existing apron

First, make sure there is enough blank space on the paper around the apron, to add seam allowance later. Then trace all the way around the apron with a pen or pencil.

tracing around the apron

Next, you are going to clean up those lines you just traced. Fold the marked pattern vertically in half (fold along the dotted “center fold line” on the diagram below), more or less matching the left and right sides together. See, this step is easier to do if you used the semi-tranparent paper.

Chances are the lines for the left side don’t exactly match the lines for the right side, because your apron has been worn and washed many times, and it has lost the original sharp, symmetrical lines.

apron pattern making diagram 1

With the draft pattern folded, re-draw neat, straight lines over your original tracing, using a ruler (except for the armhole curves). Make sure (1) the top hem line and the bottom hem line are aligned parallel to each other, (2) the two straight sides are parallel to each other, and that (3) the straight sides are at 90 degrees from the bottom hem line. Basically, if you extend the side seam and top hem lines till they meet, the apron outline should be a perfect rectangle shape. I hope this diagram helps.

Now is a good time to modify the pattern to your liking. If you’d like a longer apron, just add some lengths to the side seams. If you’d like a wider apron, so it will wrap over your body for better coverage, just extend the armhole lines a bit on each side, to make the apron wider.

Next, you need to add seam allowances to the pattern. Add 1 3/8″ (3.5cm) to the top and bottom hems. Add 3/4″ (2cm) to the sides, and to the curved armhole hems. The drafting part is all finished now!

apron pattern making diagram 2 - adding seam allowance

With the draft pattern still folded in half, cut the pattern out along the seam allowance lines (but don’t cut along the folded center!) – so you’ll end up with one big apron pattern piece.

Finally, make a paper pattern for a rectangular pocket, too. Any size of your choosing is fine, but 13″ wide x 10″ high (33cm x 27cm) is a good size that includes seam allowances.

Step 2: Cut the fabric and cotton tapes.

Now that you have the pattern, the rest is easy! Choose any medium to heavy-weight woven fabric for the apron, such as canvas or home decor / interior fabric. Linen or linen blend fabric will make a particularly lovely apron. Quilting cotton is not recommended, because it is too lightweight. Prewash and press the fabric well.

Pin the apron pattern over the fabric, and cut along the pattern.

apron making - cutting fabric from a pattern

It’ll be most accurate if you first mark the outline of the pattern onto the fabric with a pen and a ruler, and then cut along the marked lines. But for things like an apron, there is little harm done if you choose to just pin the pattern onto the fabric and cut the fabric along the pattern.

apron making - cutting fabric from a pattern

Cut the pocket piece, too.

Cut two lengths of lightweight cotton tape (about 1″ or 2.5cm wide) for the neck tie (one for each side, to be tied together at the desired length by the wearer), and two lengths for the waist ties. Again, any length you like is fine. My suggested lengths for a thin-to-average sized woman is 21″ (55cm) each for the neck ties, and 35″ (90cm) each for the waist ties.

You can buy lightweight cotton tape in bulk quite cheaply online. Try searching on eBay or Etsy, for example. I use them for a lot of things, from lunch bag handles to bunting making.

rolls of white cotton tapes

Step 3: Make the pocket and attach it.

Fold over the top edge of the pocket at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again to make a double-fold hem. Stitch along this folded edge. Fold the sides and bottom edges of the pocket at about 3/8″ (1cm), and press well. apron making - making the pocket

Pin the pocket to the middle of the apron.

apron making - pinning the pocket

Stitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket onto the apron, stitching close to the edge (about 1/12″ or 2mm from the edge). Then stitch around the sides and bottom again, at about 1/2″ (1.3cm) from the edge. This second round of stitching (1) makes the pocket more securely attached to the apron body, and (2) conceal the raw cut edges of the pocket inside the double stitching. So if you look inside the pocket, it’ll be nice and clean.

Step 4: Sew the curved armholes.

Fold over the raw edge of a curved armhole in, at 3/8″ (1cm). Press. Then fold it again at 3/8″ (1cm), to make a double-folded hem. Press. 

apron making - folding side armholes

Sitch along the fold. Repeat for the other side.

Step 5: Sew the top hem.

Fold the top hem over at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at about 1″ (2.5cm) to create a double-folded hem. Press well. Insert a piece of cotton tape (for the neck tie) into this fold, close to each end of the hem. Pin.

apron making - inserting cotton tape at top hem

apron-making - top hemStitch along this top hem, close to the folded edge. Your stitching will attach the cotton tapes to the apron at the same time, with the cut edge nicely concealed inside the folded hem.

Now fold each cotton tape over towards the top (so the ties will face upwards towards your neck, not droop downward toward your feet), and pin. Topstitch along the very top of the apron, stitching over the cotton tapes along the way.

apron making - topstitching the top hem

Step 6: Sew the sides.

Fold over a straight side hem at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at 3/8″ (1cm) to create a double-folded hem. Press well.

apron making - folding the side hems

Insert a piece of cotton tape (for the waist tie) into this fold, at the top of this hem, and pin.

apron making - side hems

Stitch along this side hem close to the folded edge like you just did with the top hem, stitching over the cotton tapes at the same time.

Now fold the cotton tape over to face outwards (so it’s ready to wrap around your waist). Stitch over the tape in this position (just over the tape bit; you don’t have to sew all the way along the side again) – try to stitch right over the previous stitch line, so you won’t see the second line of stitches from the right side of the apron.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 7: Sew the bottom hem.

Fold the bottom hem at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at about 1″ (2.5cm) to create a double-folded hem. Press well. Stitch along this bottom hem, close to the folded edge.

Stem 8: Finish up.

Your apron is nearly ready! Try it on, and make sure the neck ties and the waist ties are the lengths you like. If they are too long, cut them shorter. (If they are too short… well there is nothing you can do now at this point, other than unpick the tapes and stitch longer ones on in their place.) If everything looks good, fold over the raw cut edge of each cotton tape piece twice, and stitch over the fold line to keep the tape ends from fraying.

All done now! Enjoy your new apron.  (This is my mother last year, wearing last year’s Mother’s Day present!)

apron modelled by my mother

 

Insulated lunch bag pattern

Now I’d like to tell you a little about my new insulated lunch bag pattern. The pattern itself is quite simple, and I’m sure a lot of people could have come up with a design like this on their own. Originality is not a huge factor here.

There are two things I’m very happy about this pattern though – one is the computer-friendly format, and the other is the detailed instructions.

Format

I used a landscape format with one or two large photos per page, and corresponding bullet-point instructions in large, easy-to-read text.

Insulated lunch bag pattern first page

Does it look like a Powerpoint presentation? Why yes, that was the idea exactly. I used Apple Keynote for writing this pattern, and once I got over the initial learning curve (thanks to a wonderful tutorial on Lynda.com), the application was so simple and a joy to use.

I chose this format because I am terrible at following other people’s patterns. The reason for this, I thought, was that most patterns use the A4 format, with small text and tiny, infrequent photos. I am a visual person, and what I crave are large, clear photos and lots of them. Having to figure out a pattern by deciphering the meaning of text alone often makes my head spin.

So I’ve come up with a format that even a pattern-challenged person like me can follow with ease, with lots of large photos and texts in short sentences, presented as bullet points.

Another advantage of this format is that it is computer/tablet-friendly. I dislike having to print patterns, because printed patterns are easily lost, not to mention the cost of the printer cartridges and the environmental factor. My pattern fits nicely on your computer, tablet or even a smartphone screen, so you don’t have to print it out. It looks like this on an iPad.

Pink elephant with iPad

[Thanks to Su-Yin Johns for letting me use her photo.]

Of course, you might have to adjust your computer/tablet/smartphone setting so that it does not go to sleep after a couple of minutes. Having to wake it up every time you are ready for the next step can be annoying. But most of my patten testers loved this format, so I’m pretty sure you’ll love it, too. After all, this is the day and age where even my 60-something mother carries around a MacBook Air, and many of us prefer reading e-books over printed books.

Detailed Instructions

Another thing I am proud of this pattern is the detailed instructions. I wrote the pattern with beginners in mind, so they can learn new skills and techniques by making the lunch bag – kind of like a project-based sewing class. For example, inserting a zipper in the lunch bag is probably the hardest part of making the bag. So the pattern has many, many pages explaining the zipper attachment process step by step. Even if you have never made a zippered pouch before, you should be able to follow the instructions and make the bag pretty easily.

insulated lunch bag pattern zipper section

Of course, if you are more advanced in sewing, you can skip those pages and just read the sections that are new to you. That’s another beautiful part of having a tablet/computer-friendly pattern. Turning pages is effortless, and you don’t feel resentful that you had to print out 20+ pages of instructions and photos that you mostly didn’t need.

So I hope you’ll give my pattern a try. They are available on Etsy and Craftsy. If you’d also like to receive all the necessary materials to make the bag in the mail as well, you can purchase a kit as well on Etsy. And if you are not keen on making an insulated lunch bag, stay tuned for more patterns in the future.

New Japanese craft books – handmade by Komihinata

I have a very soft spot for Japanese craft books. I learned how to sew by reading those books. But over the years, I have accumulated quite a collection of Japanese craft books (and to tell you the truth, not just Japanese ones), it’s been hard to justify buying any more. I mean, my ever-overflowing craft books and supplies have often caused domestic discord.

But last year around Christmas, when I was in the phase of making little things like wallets and phone cases, I came across these Japanese craft books – and I just had to have them. They are called “Little Handmade Things by Ms. Komihinata,” and “Little Handmade Things by Ms. Komihinata – a Collection of Popular Items.”

Images of two Japanese craft books by Kominitana

Mioko Sugino, the author of these two books, started out by writing a crafting blog called “handmade things by Komihinata” (“Kominihata” is her made-up stage name). She made something new and showed it on her blog every single day for years. Or maybe she missed a day or two, I’m not sure. Her blog became so popular in Japan, she was eventually asked to write these books. Now she is a popular craft instructor, pattern developer, as well as an author. She still updates her blog almost daily – just amazing.

As you can see from the book covers and the titles, the things Ms. Sugino likes to make are small things, like mobile phone cases and little zippered key pouches. I love all the details and embellishments – and the fact that she makes everything look super adorable while mostly using a basic selection of fabrics, like stripes and dots.

pages from a Komihinata book

a page from a Komihinata book - a key pouchOver the years her creations got smaller and smaller, until she was well known for her miniature creations – like miniature tote bags that fit on the palm of your hand. Or miniature furniture made of fabric, fit for a doll’s house. 

a page from a Komihinata book - miniature tote bags

 

In her books, Sugino selects designs that were voted most popular by her blog readers, and explains how to make them. She makes them sound very easy… but if you’ve ever tried making little things, you know how fiddly they can be. Just look at this little case for a lip moisturizer, for example….

a page from a Komihinata book - lip cream case

It has a zipper closure. And a perfect cylinder shape, not to mention the lining. I wouldn’t even attempt to make that one – it’ll only end in tears. Whether one really needs a specialised case to carry her lip moisturiser is totally beside the point – although Ms. Sugino does explain that one of her friends was inseparable from her lip remedies, but kept losing them – so she created the case to hang it from her tote bag handle for easy access. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?

I initially bought these books to learn new techniques.  And I have learned a few tricks by browsing through the instructions. But really… the main thing about owning these Komihinata books is that they make you very happy, just flipping through the pages and admiring Ms. Sugino’s awe-inspiring skills and creativity.

Be sure to check out her blog, and don’t worry that it is in Japanese – I know you’ll love it anyway.   

Last zakka sewing class – bucket hats

Earlier this month, we met for the last zakka sewing class for the year to make kids’ sun hats.  It is a little sad that after six months of such fun monthly activity, it has come to an end. But it couldn’t have gone on forever. All good things come to an end, and it’s time to recruit new beginners to help them get sewing.

So for our last group class, we made kids’ sun hats from a free Oliver + S pattern (available for download here).  Vicky and I thought the pattern was a challenge, but doable for our increasingly-confident sewers.  Here’s what I made the previous day to prepare for the class.

Oliver + S bucket hat pattern cut out for use

 

At our class, I mostly followed the original instruction from Oliver + S, except I figured out a way to put the hat together without any hand sewing. Do you like hand sewing? No, me neither. It’s very easy to machine sew the whole hat. You make two complete hats, one for each fabric, and then you put them together at the edge of the brim, right side together, leaving about a 2-inch gap for turning. When you turn the hats inside out (just like when making a tote bag), you topstitch at the edge to sew the gap shut – and there you go! No fiddly hand sewing.

And everyone did really well with their hats, don’t you think? Beautiful stitching.

three reversible bucket hats made at zakka sewing classbucket hats modelled by a little girl

Here are all the hats modelled by an adorable little girl who came to the class with her mother.

There is still a couple of spots available for next year’s zakka sewing class, starting in February. It’s free. Just bring your sewing machine and fabric. If you are in Sydney and are interested in learning to sew, please contact me.

Tutorial: drawstring tote bag

 

We made drawstring tote bags this week at our fourth zakka sewing class.  What is a drawstring tote bag?  Well, as the name would imply, it is a tote bag with a drawstring closure.  A picture below will say it all.  These hybrid bags appear in many Japanese craft books as children’s lunch bags, etc.

photo of a finished drawstring tote bag

This tutorial will make a fully lined tote bag in the above photo, about 8″ wide, 9″ tall, and 3.5″ deep.  A little bigger than a child’s lunch bag, but it’s a versatile size for either a child or an adult.  Of course you can modify the size to your liking.

What you need:

  • 1/2 yard of fabric for the bag body – canvas, denim, interior fabric, or other sturdy fabric is recommended.
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for the lining and the drawstring top – any lightweight woven fabric, like quilting cotton, will do.
  • 1 yard of cotton webbing for the bag handles (or you can make your own).
  • About 1.5 yard of plaited cord, ribbon, or any other material for the drawstring.

Step 1: Cut all the fabric pieces

  • Main bag body: (13″ x 12″) x 2 pieces
  • Lining: (13″ x 12″) x 2 pieces
  • Drawstring top: (13″ x 6″) x 2 pieces
  • 2 x cotton webbing in the desired handle length (plus 1″ for seam allowance)

photo of all the cut pieces for drawstring tote bag

Step 2: Prepare the drawstring top

(1) Overlock or zig zag stitch the sides of each piece (just the two sides; you don’t have to overlock the top and bottom edges)

photo showing overlocking or zig zag finishing the sides of thedrawstring top

(2) Mark with a pencil at 2.5″ from the top, on each side.  Sew the two drawstring top pieces together on each side, starting at the marked points and all the way down (again, just the side seams – don’t sew the bottom seam together). Sew at 1/2″ seam allowance.

photo showing how to sew the side seam of a drawstring top

(3) Press the side seams open, and from the wrong side, sew all the way around the open top sides.  Like this:

photo showing how to sew the top side seams of a drawstring top

(4) Fold the top seams over twice, making sure you leave enough space inside to thread your drawstring cord.  Stitch very close to the folded edge.

photo showing how to sew the top of drawstring bag

Step 3: Prepare the bag body and the lining

(1) With the right side of fabric pieces together, sew all the way around the three sides of the main bag body, at 1/2″ seam allowance.  Repeat for the lining – except leave about 4″ of seam unsewn (so you can turn the bag inside out later on).  I tend to leave this opening in the middle of a side seam.  But it doesn’t matter where really, as long as the opening ins’t too close to the corners.

Photo showing how to sew the sides and bottom seams of the bag and lining

(2) Cut the corners off and sew the gussets.

Mark about a 1.5″ square on the bottom corners of the main bag and the lining.  I measure this length not from the edge of the fabric, but from the sewn line.  Cut the squares off.

a photo of fabric with corners cut off for gussets

Tease each corner open, and sew at 3/8″ seam allowance.  Repeat for the remaining corners.

a photo showing how to sew a gusset

Step 4: Assemble all the pieces together

(1) Mark where you want to attach the bag handles, and sew them on to the top of the body, at about 1/4″ from the top, to the right side of the bag body.  Make sure the handles are attached in the inverse position, with the handles facing south.

photo showing how to baste handles on a bag body

(2) Layer the drawstring top over the main bag body, at the top, with the right sides of the fabrics facing together.  Make sure the finished edge of the drawstring flap (the part where you thread the cord) is facing south.

(3) Now, layer the lining over the drawstring top, with the right side of the lining facing the wrong side of the drawstring flap.  Basically, you are layering all three pieces together, with the drawstring top sandwiched in between the main bag and lining.  I hope it makes sense.

photo showing how to assemble three layers of bag parts together

(4) Pin the three layers together at the side seams, making sure all the three side seams are matching up.

(5) Sew the three layers together, all the way around the bag, at about 1/2″ from the raw edge.  If you sew slowly, while gently pulling the fabrics towards you as you sew, everything should match up more easily.  Press the seam (it’s always a good idea to press over a sewn seam for a cleaner finish).

Step 5: Finishing up

You are nearly done!

(1) Turn the bag inside out from the opening in the lining.  Press the top seam open.

(2) Tuck the lining and the drawstring top inside the main bag, and press the top seam again.

(3) Top stitch all the way around the top edge of the bag (very close to the edge, at about 1/8″ from the top).

photo showing the topstitching at the top of the bag

(4) If everything looks good, sew the opening in the lining shut.  Being lazy, I always use a sewing machine, but blind stitching by hand will make a more beautiful finish.

(5) Thread your drawstring cords at desired length.  A bodkin will come in very handy if you have one.  If not, a safety pin will do.

 

And that’s it!  Yay!  If you don’t want to use the drawstring closure, just tuck the flap inside, and you can use it as a regular tote bag.

photo showing the inside of a finished drawstring tote bag

And if you were looking to make a lined tote bag without the drawstring closure, just omit making the drawstring top from this tutorial.  You might want to attach a set of magnetic buttons to the lining though.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zakka sewing class no. 3

 

This month at our zakka sewing group meeting, we made cushion covers with zippers.  Vicky from the accidental crafter blog has graciously agreed to teach the class this time — so I didn’t have to do anything.  Well I cleaned the house a little,  and made a pound cake.  But that’s about it.

third zakka sewing class - everyone working at a small dining table

 

My dining table was just big enough to accommodate all the keen sewers, who by the way are no longer beginners.  I think everyone had a great time.  

Here are the lovely cushions everyone made.

cushions everyone made at the August zakka sewing meeting

Vicky has also made yummy muffins. She is super talented at everything.  

Blueberry muffins Vicky made

Vicky’s tutorial for the cushion cover is posted on her blog here – so you can make one, too!  Thanks so much, Vicky, for doing all the work, while suffering from a bad cold. I’ll make it up to you next time….  

And next month, we are making a drawstring tote bag.    

 

 

Links for tote bag tutorials

 

I apologize for being so tardy in posting.  No excuses but my own laziness, really.  But I found, as I suspected, that there are many excellent free tutorials online on tote bags.  So there is no need to reinvent the wheels.  [note: having said that, I did write a detailed tutorial for a drawstring tote bag.  You can follow this to make a regular lined tote bag, too. Just omit making the drawstring top and add a set of magnetic buttons to the lining.]

(1) Patchwork tote bag with gusset tutorial:  

Aside from the patchwork and quilting details, this is how we made the tote bag in our sewing class.  I love how clear the instructions are in this tutorial.  I also like inserting a layer of quilt wadding in a tote bag, because it gives such a lovely cushiness and structure to a bag.  But of course you can just use normal iron-on interfacing instead.

A couple of other tote bag tutorials use different construction methods.

(2) For a very quick and easy tote bag without a lining, here’s a nice tutorial on Purlbee.com:  

(3) Another excellent tote bag tutorial from Purl Bee: an oil cloth tote with a circular bottom (not a gusset). 

Whichever method you use, the key to a successful tote bag is the fabric choice.  You would want to use heavier fabric like denim, canvas, and home decor fabric. Quilting-weight cotton is a good choice as a lining, but not really suitable for the bag body, because it is too lightweight. 

Happy bag making!