quick-ish gifts and fabric love

noodlehead and wisbrun1noodlehead and wisbrun2

I must be getting quicker at this pattern because I sewed six of them assembly-line style and didn’t get stressed out.  This is the famous and forever fabulous Open Wide Zipper Pouch that is offered as a free tutorial on Anna’s beautiful Noodlehead blog.  This is the medium size.  I think they make great cosmetic and project bags.  But really, they are great anything that needs containing. The fabric I used is from Melody Miller {retro look} and Anna Maria Horner {feathers}.

noodlehead and wisbrun3

I feel like the luckiest blogger in the world because on of my most favorite fabric designers ever, Laurie Wisbrun, sent me a very kind preview of one of her latest lines for Robert Kaufman.  It’s called Table Talk and it ships late summer.  Check out what Laurie is making with it.  I am completely smitten with the mix of color it presents. I have lots of plans for this grouping of beauties. The first thing I will do is fussy-cut little bits to add to my snake trail quilt.  Then, my four year old has order a dress made of the top print.  {I was pushing for the rolling pin/whisk print in the purple color-way, but my tiny baker has spoken assertively and that’s that.}  I also have this idea that I will make a bunch of simple potholders that I can have on hand as hostess gifts for when we go to parties and BBQ’s this summer.  Or, if we host a party this year, hand them out as parting gifts.  Confession:  sometimes when we are invited to parties, I consider asking the hostess if I can sew them something rather than bring food.  I never do it because I feel like I’m trying to get out of cooking, but maybe I should try it sometime. Happy summer!


just a quick hello

I just wanted to pop in and say hello and let you know that I am still sewing when I can, but haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d like. That said, I have six (!) pages of handwritten notes for my next installment of the Confessions of a Fabric Stasher series so I hope to post “part three” really soon.  In the meantime, I thought I would share these zipper pouches I made as end-of-the-year teacher gifts.  I sewed them without following a tutorial and I didn’t run into any glitches, so I feel like I can confidently state that I have conquered the zipper–or this application of it, anyway. Be back soon!

brrr! bags + giveaway


Just before Christmas I received the most beautiful pile of gorgeous fabric from talented fabric designer Laurie Wisbrun.  I spent a lot of the holiday break thinking about what I wanted to create with it and this vision of a pile of box bags would not leave my head.

Since my daughter’s birthday is in January, I felt like her party was the perfect excuse to make the bags, so I did.  To say that these goodie bags went over well at her party is an understatement.  The kids liked them, but I could tell the Mom’s were plotting ways to keep them for themselves.  {Well, I guess I can really only speak for myself here, but I have definitely been downplaying their appeal with my kids.} This fabric, you guys!  It’s fantastic.  How perfect is the scale of the two polar bear prints for this sort of thing!?!!  They are just too sweet.  This is a very early sneak peek–Brrr! will be available in June.  There are more photos of this wonderful line of fabric on Laurie’s blog. I am so grateful to Laurie for sending me these beautiful prints.  I had so much fun making these!

My process for sewing these involved a mash-up of several free online tutorials I have used in the past.  I considered sharing my full process in more detail, but I am questioning whether there is a need for yet another box bag tutorial.  This one sums it up really nicely and other tutorials I have learned from before  include this one, this one, and this one. I will leave you with a few project notes at the end of this post.  These jottings are basic and I am really just posting them here so that I don’t lose track of them. If you’ve never tried to make a box bag, these will probably sound like gibberish, and that is OK!

On to the fun part!  Who would like to win a fat quarter pack of this adorable line of fabric? Just say hello via a comment on this post and I will choose a random winner on February 1.  I will ship internationally.

Project notes:

-The finished bags measure 7″ x 4.5″ x 3″ (L x W x H).  I start with a rectangle that measures 11.25″ x 16.5″ and use a .5″ seam allowance. I cut the sides that measure 11.25″ with pinking shears.

-There are exposed seams inside.  I used to be very opposed to this, but since I finish the seams with a zig zag stitch, there really isn’t much of a difference in the end result and it saves so much time.

-I use a medium weight sew-in-stabilizer/interfacing in between the outer fabric and the lining. Using an interfacing that has an adhesive on both sides would make the process of attaching the zipper easier.  I get nervous about wrinkles that can appear with adhesive interfacing, so I try to stay away from it.

-I do this cheater thing when I sew on the zipper. I top stitch and attach the zipper to all three layers of fabric all in the same step.  This probably involves breaking SO MANY RULES but it works for me. This is also why I “pink” the ends of the fabric on the sides that measure 11.25″. The first tutorial that I link to does this as well.  It is a time saver and simplifies fussy-cutting.

-I sew the fabric onto the zipper in a particular order so that it doesn’t get all bunchy and awkward in the neck of my sewing machine.  I would love to explain this but I need to just take a photo so that I am able to express myself well.  (Has anyone ever seen a tutorial that explains this part?)

–When I box the corners, I mark a line that is 1.5″ inches down from the corner.  This creates the 3″ width of the bag.

small and boxy

How’s everyone’s holiday “making” going? This cute little boxy pouch measures 4″x2″x2″.  The outer fabric is Ruby Star Rising by Melody Miller and the lining is a matching wood-grain print.  This one was part of a gift for my sister’s birthday, but I am thinking these would be fun to make as gift card holders surrounded by chocolate candy, like Hershey’s kisses. The tutorial is here.  My inspiration for making this is here.

Enjoy these last few days of anticipation and preparation. I have a five year old boy who just keeps telling me that Christmas is too far away!  I’m trying to embrace his spirit.  It’s pretty contagious.  If I am not back here in this spot before the big day, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

favorite zipper pouch tutorials

I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to make nice, neat, professional-looking lined zippered pouches. I’ve tried a bunch of free tutorials, used directions that I’ve found in sewing books, and even purchased a pdf-pattern from an etsy shop.  After all this “research,” I have found two tutorials that have really helped me to make the perfect pouch and I thought I’d share. This one, at Splityarn, is the best one I’ve found for a standard zip pouch.  Kelby Sews has an excellent tutorial if you would like to make little tabs that cover up the ends of the zipper. In the past, my biggest issue with making these has been lots of bunching at the ends of the zippers. Both these tutorials helped me solve that problem.

**Edited to add that I absolutely love Anna’s open wide zippered pouch tutorial on the Noodlehead blog.  This is a different application, with part of the zipper hanging outside of the bag, and it is awesome!

good tutorials should be shared

And this one, which guides you carefully through all the steps to make a lined box bag, was a good one. I added two inches of length to mine and its the perfect size for so many things.  {For reference, I could probably fill it with the tissues from a standard size box of facial tissue–minus the box.}  The only thing I will do differently the next time around is use 1/2″ seam allowances, rather than 1/4″.  I used an upholstery weight fabric paired with a print from Anne Kelle’s Remix line. The zipper is from Zip It on Etsy.  I can’t say enough about their great prices and perfect customer service.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you are enjoying a bit of time off to relax with family and friends.  I am grateful for many, many things. This little spot of mine on the internet {and the like-minded crafters with whom it connects me} is one of them.  Thank you so much for checking in here from time to time.

my projects look WAY better when photographed by amazing photographers


Whoot! The clutches that I made for the wedding- in action.  And, the Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress on a cute pirate!

My sister-in-law and her husband recently got their wedding photos back from their photographers and, I have to say, the collection is amazing.  Tara and Ben of Hitched Studios truly captured the spirit of what was an incredibly beautiful day.  Tara, who has her own business photographing families and creating other types of portraits, gave me permission to share the above images.  My silly sewing projects {bridesmaid clutches and a dress for my daughter} look a million times better when photographed by crazy talented photographers, don’t you think? Click on over to the Hitched Studios blog if you would like to see more of my sister-in-law’s wedding, including {of course} a photo or twelve of a gorgeous bride!  Something tells me you will end up sticking around a bit as you become captivated by the pure beauty that Tara and Ben capture at every event they photograph.    And if you are looking to hire photographers for something, please get in touch with me so that I can rave even more about these two incredible professionals.

pleated clutch

I made this clutch for my sister-in-law who is getting married in June.  This was the prototype for six clutches I will make {using silk shantung} for the bridesmaids in her wedding.  Since the prototype turned out well, I gave this bag to her as a bridal shower gift.  I was inspired by this photo and from there, I worked out a pattern on my own. The bag uses a 6 inch flex frame closure.  I learned how to make pleats by reading bits of this book, which I borrowed from the library.  The bridesmaids clutches will be a teal color and the linings will be chosen from a range of pink cotton prints. Choosing the lining fabric will be my favorite part of the project.

Quite frankly, I was shocked by the lack of cursing that went on while I sewed up this bag.  Normally, when I don’t work from a tried and true pattern, I end up very frustrated.  I took very good notes as I went along, so hopefully the next six clutches will go as smoothly.

I think I may have one more wedding related project in me.  An Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress for my girl! I traced and cut the pattern (the version with the tab, not the ribbon), have chosen the fabric, and just have to start cutting.

Speaking of children’s clothing, have you seen what’s been going on in the Elsie Marley kids clothing week flickr pool? I sewed a small beach cover-up for a beautiful new friend, and I have three dresses in progress for my girl.  I’ll show those off soon.

craft fair report

You know what?  The craft fair was a lot of fun.  Know what else?  I kinda, sorta, almost sold out. Which isn’t terribly hard to do when you only bring 20 some odd items to sell.  But still.  I was really happy about the outcome and enjoyed the whole experience.

Here is why it was a successful day for me:

:: I received a ton of great advice from all of you.  A big huge THANKS to those who popped in and commented on my last post.  The comments on that particular entry are a great resource.

:: I had fun because I was in good company and had friends with me to hold my hand. I shared a table with a photographer friend and was sitting nearby an artist and jewelry-maker friend. (Her blog recap is here.) Their support and friendship made all the difference. And by sharing time at the table, neither my photography friend nor I had to sit there all afternoon. {It was a half-day event.}

:: I priced things reasonably.  Curvy clutches were $25 and mini zip pouches were $5. I sold seven clutches and thirteen mini zips. I know that my time and effort plus materials was worth more than that, but this was my first time selling things and I really didn’t want to come home with a bunch of “inventory” for a shop that does not exist. That would have been bad for the crafty ego. I was a little bummed that my favorite clutch sold in the last hour because I would have like to have kept it for myself.  But that was a happy kind of sad, if you know what I mean.

:: I shared a table with a talented photographer whose note cards attracted tons of traffic.  Without her, I am sure that my wares would have gone less noticed.

:: I had a blast meeting my “customers.”  {I probably shouldn’t put that word in quotes because they truly were customers. But I felt like I was playing store all day, so I felt like they were just playing along.}  They were sweet.  They love and appreciate handmade.  Some of them recognized the fabrics I used and mentioned the designers.  They had questions galore about process. How long did it take to make this? {The clutches–FOREVER.  The zips–no time at all.} Where did you get the clutch pattern? (Keykaloupatterns.com – It’s great.} How do you install the snaps? {Hmm. Let me try to explain!} Where do you shop for fabric locally? {Franklin Mill Store mostly} TALKING SHOP WAS SO MUCH FUN!

:: In a small way, I contributed to a good cause.  The only fee that vendors paid was a donation of handmade goods valuing $25 dollars for a raffle that benefited a group of college students who will spend their winter break in New Orleans helping with reconstruction efforts.  There was this one college student, who I am guessing was one of the students who will go on this trip, who spent a good amount of time at my table trying to decide which mini-zip pouch to buy.  You could tell she is the type who spends her money carefully. After a while, she settled on one and made her purchase.  At the end of the day when they picked the raffle winners, I waited around to see who won my clutch. This same young woman was still around.  When they picked her name out of the hat, she did a tiny little victory jump and then looked over at me and said, “I was really hoping to win it.” It was the sweetest thing.  Made my crafty heart all fuzzy and warm.  I’d make that girl a million clutches if I had the time.

:: I learned a bit about myself as a crafter.  I found that I actually do enjoy making things assembly-line style.  It takes a bit longer to get to the finished product, but when you are on that last step (for example, turning eight curvy clutches right-side-out), seeing the final items is even more exciting. It makes me understand why people like me have little online shops.  If you are making a gift for a friend, why not make a few more and pop them into a cyber shop?  There is very little overhead involved and if something is snatched up, you get to experience the rush of a sale.  Now I get it. I’m not saying that I will have a little shop of my own up and running anytime soon, but I think it could be in my future.

So that’s the rundown.  It was a good little experiment for me.  It made for a very nice afternoon.  I now know that when my family and friends graciously accept my handmade gifts, there is a good chance that they actually like them and that they are not just being polite.  I don’t know that I’d seek out another craft fair, but I do think I will sign up for this one again next year.


typing with one hand today.  cute baby on my lap.

pillow made entirely by 2.5 in. scraps.  my mom ironed scraps while i cut squares. my mom, if you haven’t gathered, is super nice like that. tutorial is genius. gave this to a very sweet friend who always rolls out the red carpet for us when we visit nyc.  it was well received.  phew.  handmade gifting can be stressful. {xoxo y un gran bezaso, b.  was so great, as always, to see you.}

tote bag made by me. my “pattern,” if you’d call it that.  logo tag is olivia’s.  i think the tag makes the bag look more professional.  and i get to carry around a tiny piece of olivia’s artwork which leads to conversations in which i can tell people how great she is.  schlepped this bag all around new york.  a great size because it fit my normal purse stuff plus my semi-bulky camera.  with room for treasures from shopping excursions.  {muji was my one real shopping treat this time.} print fabric is amy butler august fields.  a gift from city auntie.  linen is from joann’s.  a gift from adventure auntie.  felt so good to make something for me from fabric that was given to me.

boy do i love new york.  we are so lucky to be able to visit that incredible city.