I’ve been a little obsessed with laminated fabric lately. Particularly those matt ones that are more subtle looking. From a distance, you won’t know that these fabrics are vinyl-coated – they look like normal cotton fabric. Even up close, it’s hard to tell sometimes. My favorite is the Liberty of London laminated fabrics.
These are the most beautiful laminated fabrics I have ever seen. In addition to the gorgeous Liberty prints to begin with, the laminated ones have great sturdiness, making it suitable for bags of all sorts. It feels amazing to touch – smooth and reassuringly solid, and it doesn’t have any icky synthetic feel. As a bonus, the material is waterproof and stain resistant.
The only drawback is that these Liberty fabrics are super pricey! This is why I had only made small things with it so far – like phone pouches with a wristlet, makeup pouches, and pencil cases.
Top left: rainy day mini wristlet pouch / top right: triangle pencil cases / bottom left: flat makeup cases / bottom right: makeup pouches with a flat bottom.
But today, I made something a little bit bigger – cross-body shoulder bags! These bags are twice as large as my pencil cases, and has a simple zipper closure at the top. It’s a nice roomy size for a small wallet, phone, keys, makeup, and a few other essentials.
Isn’t this blueberry-like print gorgeous? The strap is long enough for a small to medium-sized woman to wear cross-bodied, or hang from one shoulder.
You can remove the strap if you like, and use the bag as an organizer pouch instead.
This print called “Capel” is one of my all-time Liberty favorites. And black goes with everything.
I used waterproof nylon taffeta for the lining. Having waterproof material for the outside and inside makes these bags pretty handy for rainy days. There is also a layer of quilt wadding inside for added cushiness and softness.
Here’s another rainy day bag using laminated fabric – though not Liberty.
I love this zebra-like bag.
There is a tiny gusset at the bottom – just to give some three-dimensional shape to the bag.
These rainy bags will be available at my Facebook auction, which is going on right now. Please come over and say hello!
I’ve been having so much fun making things for the Facebook auction market. There is something about creating for a specific audience – my lovely Facebook friends and supporters – that is particularly motivating and exciting. I love coming up with products I think they’d appreciate. Like these insulated snack sleeves.
Several people in the past have suggested that I make either smaller insulated lunch bags, or insulated version of snack bags. So I made something that’s in between the two – it’s a very versatile size!
These snack sleeves are a little bigger than a typical sandwich bag, and has a flat bottom. It’s a perfect size for a tab of yoghurt and a piece of fruit, OR a smallish container of lunch or snack. I recommend using a mini-sized reusable ice pack to keep the content nice and cool.
This round container with a blue lid is from Ikea – the shallow one, not the deep one. I love these, and use them all the time for our kids’ school lunch box. The snack sleeve also fits other types of small containers. Fill it with cheese sticks, yoghurt, slices of cake, chocolate… or any other snacks that are best served cold. The ice pack and the insulation material should keep the content cool for a few hours.
I used a layer of Insul Bright inside for the insulation effect. The lining is PUL, using the non-coated side on the outside. I used PUL just because I was running out of coated nylon, but I do like the soft hand of PUL – with the non-coated side facing, it almost feels like normal cotton fabric, but with water-resistant effect. Even though the non-coated side is supposedly safer with food, as opposed to the coated side, I’d still avoid putting food directly in contact with the lining. It’s safer to use a container or a wrap around food, before storing it in the snack sleeve.
Here are some of the cute fabrics I used for children.
And for grownups, or for older children, isn’t this mushroom fabric lovely?
I hope to see you at the auction! You can visit my auction album here.
I have been wanting a new tote bag for a while. You’d think I have plenty of bags to choose from by now – but I didn’t. I have several bucket nappy bags, a backpack convertible bag, a beach tote bag… and they are all wonderful for family outings. But they are all too big for everyday use. What I needed was a bag small enough for my wallet, phone, keys, small snacks… and my beloved iPad. That’s it.
So this is the little black bag I whipped up this morning. I used a very sturdy cotton canvas fabric my mother found in Japan a couple of years ago. I love the cute-but-not-too-childish print of cats, yarn, apples, and other whimsical drawings.
I like sturdy bags, so I used black canvas for the lining, fortified with interfacing. There is a little patch pocket inside for my phone. I also installed a carabiner tab on the side for my keys. These tabs are so handy – because there is nothing more frustrating than having to fish for your keys in your bag when you are in a hurry.
The handles are heavy-duty cotton webbing in black. All this blackness means I won’t have to wash this bag for a long time! Plus black goes with everything – especially in winter. The handles are long enough for me to carry the bag from my shoulder.
The bag has a narrow flat bottom.
See, the bag is just the right size for all my needs, but there is still a little room left for extra things, just in case.
I’m very happy how the bag came out! I might make some for my shop in the future.
I am a big fan of “Echino” fabrics by Japanese designer Etsuko Furuya. Her designs for this year are particularly pretty.
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.
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.
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.
I used heavy-duty cotton for the bottom to give firm structure. I also padded the fabric for structure and cushiness.
To match the vividness of the Echino colors, I chose vivid Kona cotton colors for the lining.
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?
For this week’s “Sunday Funday” sale, I made spoon + fork utensil case and mini serviettes, to go inside a chid’s lunch box for school or daycare. I used organic cotton prints from my stash. Aren’t they cute? I love the tulip fabric in particular. The cases are just little padded bags, with a small velcro closure in the middle. It fits one spoon, one fork, and one small serviette. The padding inside makes the case soft and cushy. I hope this set will make children smile at school lunch time, holding the cushy case to take out their favorite utensils. I hope they’ll feel a little more loved – even if the lunch itself might consist of dinner leftovers. I lined these cases with coordinating organic cotton prints. Yes they might get dirty if the lunch involves tomato sauce or something, but it’s easy to just toss it in the washing machine. I am a big fan of reusable serviettes or napkins. They feel so much better on your face than paper ones. We use them at home all the time, as well as for the kids’ school lunch boxes. Even though the utensil case has a simple design, I spent hours coming up with it. In my mind I thought of zippers, tabs, flaps, ribbons, and other closures, and then ruled them out one by one. I thought of using nylon lining, then I ruled it out. I thought of a tall design but decided to go with a wide design. I love this process of coming up with the perfect design – and in the end, it’s often the simplest design that works best. I hope to make these cases in grownup prints next time.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
and a simple velcro version with velcro tabs at the top of the bag (the one on the right)…
and a flap version with a single fabric like this.
But none of them was truly satisfactory to me. Why? Well, here are my “pros and cons” comparison notes.
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.
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
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.
If I use busy prints for the flap section, the stitch lines for the velcro are not noticeable. Pretty elegant looking overall.
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!
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.
Recently I was asked to make a nappy bag with a zipper-top closure instead of a magnetic button closure. I said yes, thinking it wouldn’t be too hard.
Well it turned out to be a little more challenging than I anticipated. Simply inserting a zipper at the top is easy. But keeping the D-ring tabs on either top ends of the bag – which is part of the bag design, allowing the shoulder strap to attach neatly – required some thought.
In the end the solution was simple – I used a recessed zipper design, which I have used before for my wristlet pouches.
Looks great, doesn’t it? I also attached a handy carabiner tab (I used a lovely linen tape here) just under the zipper here, so you don’t lose your keys or wristlet pouches. You don’t really need these for my regular diaper bags with magnetic button closure, because you can simply use the D rings on either side, and tuck the hanged items inside the bag. With the zipper-top, you can’t do that because then you won’t be able to close the zipper.
I’m pleased with this optional design. This bag will be great for traveling, too, because the content will not spill out when accidentally knocked over under the aiplane seat, for example. You can also carry your tablet or laptop and feel secure about it. These zipper-top nappy bags are now available to order on my Etsy shop.
I love it when my customers challenge me to come up with a new design feature I had not made before. It allows me to experiment with new things, and expand my creative horizon.
I’m so excited to announce that my first pattern and kits for insulated lunch bags are now finished and up for sale! Why am I now writing patterns, you ask? Well, I have always wondered if other crafters might enjoy making the zakka items I create, rather than having to buy the finished items from my shops. I also feel passionate about getting people to learn how to sew. So my hope was to write patterns that are detailed enough for beginners to follow, but are still interesting for more experienced crafters.
I’d love to tell you more about the pattern and the kits in another post, but first, I’d like to tell you about the five wonderful women who tested my lunch bag pattern and kits – Erika, Bec, Su, Kristy and Sarah. At first I was hoping to get two or three volunteer testers, but was thrilled to find five! And they’ve all done tremendous work getting the kits sewn up and giving me invaluable feedback.
Here’s the lunch bag Sarah made. She chose this “boy and ship” fabric that turned out to be quite cute for this bag.
Kristy from Monkey Mai made this lunch bag with the red bird fabric. Beautiful job!
I was lucky to have two other professional crafters to test out my kits and pattern. Bec from Little Toot Creations is an experienced dressmaker. Isn’t her grey bird lunch bag beautiful?
Su, another experienced dressmaker from Alice Loves Handmade, chose this pink elephant fabric for her daughter. It turned out so pretty and girly. I’m also pleased that most of my testers were able to make the lunch bags without having to print out the 20-odd-page instruction. You can see how nice the pattern looks on Su’s iPad in the photo. But more about the pattern itself later.
Last but not the least, Erika helped me out all the way from Vermont, US. She’s an avid crafter, and was the one who initially encouraged me to write patterns. She made not one but two lunch bags using her own fabrics – because sending kit materials to the US would take so long. I love both her bags! She made her own handles, too, which add a lot to the design, don’t you think?
I really enjoyed working with all the pattern testers, and feel that they are now part of my team. It gets lonely sometimes working alone in my studio at home. So even though I have never met any of the testers personally or even spoken to them on the phone, it’s been wonderful to have this teamwork experience by email. It just shows how generous and supportive this crafting community is. Thanks a million for your help, and I look forward to working with you again in the future!
Well the long summer school holiday is finally coming to an end here in Australia, and it’s nearly time to go back to school – or in my kids’ case, preschool. One thing that was good about this holiday for me was that the kids really bonded with each other. Maybe it’s only natural after spending all those weeks together, instead of going to separate preschool and daycare rooms. But I am truly grateful that they are playing together so well now, with much less fighting and tears.
Anyway, to celebrate the beginning of a new school year – and to thank all my blog and Facebook readers for their support – I’d like to give away THREE library bags to three lucky winners! These bags are my bestsellers, and no wonder, because they are super useful. You can use it for library books, for a sheet and blanket for daycare or preschool, and they also come in handy for keeping your suitcase organised for traveling. It’ll also make a great gift for a new mother, because she can cram a lot of baby stuff in the bag and toss it in the stroller basket, without having to buy an expensive nappy bag.
Rather than picking the three bags myself, I’d like each winner to pick a bag of her/his choice from what’s listed in my Etsy shop (subject to availability). So please check it out.
To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment to this blog post (not on Facebook) with your name and which library bag print you would like to have if you win.
The giveaway is open till Thursday, January 31, at 9pm Sydney time. I will then choose three winners randomly. Good luck!
The giveaway is now closed. Thanks everyone for entering!