Ten Basic Zipper Pouches

Ten Basic Zipper Pouches

Sewed 10 basic zipper pouches last week.
Now I have a sewing-headache.
Am I a wimp?
There’s a reason I avoid making anything in large quantities…
I just temporarily forgot.
Nevertheless, it was for a good reason.
It started with wanting to help a local outreach program.
I’m crappy at the face to face stuff.
But when I learned that this ministry had need of supplies to hand out to young women,
I thought,
“Here is something I can help with.”
Went shopping for items to create toiletry kits.
Tooth brushes and tooth paste.
Nail files and clippers.
The request for help called these supplies “Hope in a Bag.”
And suggested the items be bagged in recycled grocery bags.
Could have done that.
If these bags of supplies are given out as a message,
Wouldn’t it be better to present the items in something durable, reusable and a pretty?
Could taking the time to sew a zipper fabric bag to place everything in add to the message?
To tell a young lady that people care.
That she is worth something.
I figured “maybe” was enough of an answer.
And got to work.
 I wanted each bag to measure 12 inches across by 15 inches long.
I use this sized bag as “project bags” to hold my various knitting and crochet projects.
They fold flat when not use.
But are roomy enough to hold a couple skeins of yarn and most works in progress.
In this case, 
Each bag was plenty big enough to hold the toiletry items I put together.
 With room for a few other personal items should the need arise.
Below are my notes and tips for making these basic zipper pouches.
  •  To make one pouch, you will need one standard 12-inch zipper and two pieces of cotton fabric; each cut into a 13.25-inch by 16.25-inch rectangle.  I recommend cutting the fabric using a rotary cutter, quilting ruler and a large cutting mat.
  • Sew with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.
  • The zipper is sewn to one of the 13.25-inch sides of the fabric rectangle.  Let’s call this fabric edge the “zipper-edge.”
  • Before attaching the zipper, I finished the “zipper-edge” of the fabric rectangle with the serger.
  • Center the zipper to “zipper-edge” of one fabric rectangle.  Right side of zipper should face right side of fabric.  Sew zipper to zipper edge of fabric.
  • Repeat with second edge of zipper and second piece of fabric.
  • Press seams along both sides of the zipper.
  • Once the zipper is attached to both pieces of fabric, open the zipper midway.  Then pin the edges of the bag body together, right side to right side. 
  • Sew the remaining three edges of the bag body together.
  • Serge the three sides to finish the edges.
  • Weave serged thread ends into the stitches and trim as necessary.
  • Flip bag right side out.
  • Press.
 It’s a bit of a process.
I tried to speed things up a bit by working factory style.
I cut the fabric for all ten bags at once.
Then serged all “zipper edges.”
Then moved onto zippers…
You get the picture.
Even so, it was slow going.
(or hec, maybe I’m just slow).
I worked for three afternoons.
At least three hours and change each time.
Finished and filled ten bags.
 This is going to be an ongoing thing.
Just need to figure out the “how many” and “how often” part.
In the meantime,
Hoping these first ten toiletry bags and kits can be of some little help.

Valentine’s for E

Valentine’s for E

When my littler boy was six years old,
We suffered a small Valentine’s tragedy.
Shortly before the holiday,
Our then school announced that Valentine’s day would no longer be celebrated at school.
Parents received an email urging us “not to buy into the hype” of cards and candy.
The children were informed that they would observe a “Respect for All Day” instead.
 I really really wanted to comment that everyday should be a “respect for all day.”
But I kept my mouth shut. 
I had such fond memories of giving and receiving Valentine’s notes and cards as a kid.
I was sad to see another holiday banned from school.
My littler guy reluctantly put away the handmade crafts he’d prepared for his classmates.
I attempted to cheer him up by promising a special celebration at home.
Valentine’s Day arrived.
Or, “Respect for All Day” if you want to be PC about it.
My six year old came home weeping as if his heart had broken.
Not all the teachers had obeyed the memo.
He had witnessed kindergarten teachers clandestinely stuffing little decorated brown paper bags with colorful Valentine’s treats their students had prepared for each other.
For months he cried over that memory.
Think I’m still a little scarred from all of that.
What mom doesn’t hurt when her kid is hurting?
Fast forward to today.
He’s ten.
In a new town and a new school.
A school where the children pass out Valentine’s to each other 
And are allowed to bring decorated bags to collect their own cards and treats.
He wrinkled his nose and said he didn’t care.
But damned if I was going to let him miss out on this childhood rite.
Even if I had to make the bag and cards myself…
 He didn’t want to decorate a bag.
“I’ll just use a paper bag,” he said.
I countered with the offer to sew one for him.
I’d make it with my favorite grey felt.
But plain.
It’d be heavy enough to stay standing like a basket on his desk.
But would have handles and could double as a bag when he was ready to come home.
Would he agree to just one red felt heart pinned to the bag?
(Dimensions and details for bag outlined in above picture).
Plain grey felt and one red heart felt a little too plain.
I took a risk and added Valentine’s colored strapping for handles.
Made a short version of the basket/bag.
And a tall one.
He claimed the shorter bag.
Now we just need to assemble the treats and cheesy message he’ll be handing out in class.
(Thank goodness for Pinterest & idea sharing!)
Maybe he’s just a good kid and has been humoring me.
Maybe I’m still trying to make it up to that six year old who was so devastated when his school banned Valentine’s Day.
Or maybe,
He really still loves the idea of Valentine’s.
And he just needs to say his mom insisted…
Whichever the reason.
I’m just glad he gets to experience this bit of fun.
Happy Valentine’s to my E.
Cozy Cable Headband

Cozy Cable Headband

Finished this cozy fleece lined cable knit headband just in time,
 ‘Cuz winter finally hit.
Temperatures have dropped.
Icy rain and sleet keeping us inside.
Got a draft blowing through every single window in our house.
I don’t like blasting the heat.
Instead, I’m sporting three layers of clothes,
Including a hoodie with the hood up,
Fuzzy socks,
Furry slippers,
and my new headband.
(I’m quite the sight to behold).
 This has been sitting abandoned for almost a year.
Proved to myself I could indeed cable if I really wanted to.
Then decided I didn’t want to.
Not four inches into the swatch, 
I lost interest in counting and tossed what little I’d knit into the yarn stash.
Shortly after, we experienced a pivotal family moment.
Packed ourselves up.
Moved from NY to NC.
Set up a whole new life.
And pretty much forgot about knitting til last week.
The sudden cold weather triggered the urge to knit.
What better project to start with than this little headband?
The pattern is “Big Cable Scarf” by Jami Brynildson.
However, I used #8 instead of the suggested #17 knitting needles.
And worsted weight instead of bulky weight yarn.
After knitting 103 rows, my swatch measured 20 inches long by 3 inches wide.
Not even close to a “big cable scarf.”
But just perfect to form a headband.
 To make the headband extra comfortable,
I added a fleece lining.
To do this,
I cut a 21 inch by 4 inch fleece rectangle.
Making sure the fleece stretched along the longer length of the rectangle
(Fleece does not stretch in all directions).
Folded the edges over a half inch along the two long edges for the fleece rectangle.
Wrong side to wrong side.
Finished the edges with a decorative stretch stitch.
 Next, I folded the fleece rectangle in half.
This time, right side to right side.
Used a half inch seam allowance and stretch stitch to sew the inner headband together.
Finger pressed the seam open.
Caution – NEVER iron fleece
(unless you want to melt your fleece and make a mess of your iron).
Used the yarn ends to stitch the knit outer headband together.
Wove the remaining yarn ends into the cable knit fabric.
I tucked the outer portion of the headband into the inner portion.
Wrong side to wrong side.
Then hand stitched fleece headband lining to outer knit headband.
It’s a super comfy headband.
I’m glad to have it on this wet dreary winter day.
Wrapping Without Waste

Wrapping Without Waste

Wrapped packages under the Christmas tree.
So pretty to look at.
Kiddies happily shaking shiny boxes bedecked in ribbons.
Excitedly anticipating the glut of holiday loot.
Who doesn’t love that?
Our wrapping traditions are horribly wasteful.
Whole aisles in stores devoted to
Wrapping paper,
Tissue paper,
Gift boxes,
Shredded paper to fill those boxes,
Paper gift bags,
Bows and ribbons.
Designed and produced for one time use.
Then mostly swept into trash bags & left curbside.
For folks trying to be environmentally responsible,
One small way to make a difference is to rethink the wrapping thing.
 My preferred wrapping alternative is to use furoshiki.
Think fabric instead of paper.
Tying knots instead of taping.
Folding away one year.
Ironing and reusing the next (and the next and the next).
If you’re interested in making your own fabric wraps,
Word of warning.
In the short term, wrapping with fabric is not a cheaper option.
It also takes some time to cut and finish the fabric edges.
But the results are pretty, functional, reusable and creates no waste.
Which in my book, makes it worth the extra effort.
 Every Christmas, my boys also receive “practicals.”
New wearables to replace the ones they’ve worn out or outgrown.
Socks, pajamas, hats, gloves, etc.
Rather than using multiple gift boxes and tissue paper,
I fill a single basket for each boy.
And cover with a square of fabric.
Old school picnic style.
 There is no gleeful tearing or ripping of paper at our house Christmas morning.
But there are still twinkly lights.
Colorful wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree.
Plenty of anticipation.
And a little less waste.
Japanese Knot Bag in Leather

Japanese Knot Bag in Leather

Back in April, I shared about sewing a Japanese knot bag
My result was cute.
Actually, a little too cute.
I gifted that bag to one of my little neighbor girls.
I intended to try again using leather instead of cotton fabric.
But moving madness took over my life for a while.
 First into temporary housing.
Then into our house 
I’ve been a little distracted.
Now, almost seven months later, I’ve finally made the leather version of the bag.
 Same bag as last time.
But with leather instead of fabric.
This was my first attempt to use my sewing machine for leather.
I was a little nervous.
But, beyond the risk of broken needle or failed project,
What’s the real risk?
I switched to a leather sewing needle.
Looked for but didn’t find upholstery strength thread.
I settled for a spool of 100% polyester thread instead.
Threaded up the machine.
Very carefully cut the leather.
Took a slow deep inhale and exhale.
Then with perfect calm
(do you believe me?),
Sewed the bag.
Actually, the “perfect calm” part was a lie.
I just thought that sounded good.
In fact,
 The day was dreary.
I was cranky.
And jittery and twitchy from way too much coffee.
I still managed to sew the bag.
The leather I used is soft and supple.  But it’s also a little thick.
I started with hand wheeling on the machine to test the needle strength.
Since I was still a little nervous about punching through a double layer of leather,
I kept my sewing speed slow and steady.
It’s much louder to sew through leather.
Also had trouble with the leather sticking a little.
But otherwise, all went well.
My leather knot bag is unlined.
Since it’s leather, I didn’t have to worry about fraying edges.
However, the seams were stiff.
I used two rocks to “beat” the seams open on the inside of the bag.
Did this by sandwiching bag seam between the two rocks – one under, one over.
Used a light pounding motion to flatten the seams open.
Then glued the flattened seams down.
Here it is.
Good for times I don’t have pockets and don’t want to carry a purse.
Can hold phone, keys and a little more.
Comfortable on the wrist.
Happy bright yellow leather Japanese knot bag.
I’m keeping this one.
“Piece of Resistance” & “Souls” Trick-or-Treat Bags

“Piece of Resistance” & “Souls” Trick-or-Treat Bags

Halloween in just a few more days.
I’ve worked hard to complete props for my boys’ costumes.
Last year, by special request,  I made a guitar trick-or-treat bag.
Think it made an impression.
Because this year, both boys asked for trick-or-treat bags that supplemented their costumes.
The littler boy will be  Emmet from The Lego Movie.
We purchased his construction hat and vest.
But he wanted me to make the “Piece of Resistance.”
Of course, he wanted it to function as his trick-or-treat bag.
Started this project with some head scratching puzzlement.
My big hang up was how to make it so he could wear his piece of resistance like a backpack.
Then, I had that ah-ha moment.
I would just construct it… like a backpack (duh).
One cardboard box.
One roll of red duck tape.
Two cut up Disney lanyards.
Two plastic squeeze buckles from my salvage odds & ends bin.
A little sewing.
A lot of duck taping.
Next project.
The bigger boy will be dressed as the grim reaper.
We bought his costume too.
But he asked for a trick-or-treat bag with the word “SOULS” across it.
Happy to make this for him.
Especially since this boy rarely asks me to make anything for him.
Sewed this one from one large piece of black craft felt.
I used zig-zag stitch to sew the white felt letters onto the bag body.
I love how this bag turned out.
It’s super sturdy and can hold a lot.
Need to buy 100% wool felt so I can make one of these for myself!
But first,
“Emmet” needs a little detailing on his vest and a clip on ID.
“The Grim Reaper” wants a scythe.
And, oh right,
We still have to carve pumpkins!
Only three more days to Halloween…
Gotta boogie!