Category Archives: Sewing

Day 10: Easy Drawstring Bags

It hasn’t felt very much like Christmas this week with the warm weather we have been having and today is just rainy and dreary.  We have all been a little grumpy this week, despite the fact that we are in full Christmas prep mode.  Today, to help us find some Christmas spirit, we listened to the first half of Handel’s Messiah while we sewed.  That helped me along a little and I was able to get today’s quick gifty item done.


I like bags.  I think they are useful for all kinds of things and I really feel that a person cannot have too many bags.  My favorite bags for knitting are made by my friend Michele at ThreeBagsFullStudio on etsy.  They are really well made, have a lot of great features, and are pretty as well.

In my bag collection, I also have a couple of simple drawstring bags that are especially useful for holding extra yarn for a bigger project.  They help keep the yarn from rolling around with my project pieces and getting all tangled up.  These easy drawstring bags are fun to make and very quick.  I think I was able to sew six of them up in an hour after I had the prototype made and the process ironed out.

First, cut the fabric.  I had a yard of mystery green fabric.  I thought it was quilting cotton when I bought it, but I think it really must be some kind of blend because when I tried to iron it, it wrinkled up on high, which is the temp I usually use for cotton.  Plus, it’s a little thin.  Anyway, all of that was just to say that most any type of fabric can be used here, though I would stay away from the really expensive stuff and just use plain cotton.

I cut the fabric into 11 by 21 inch pieces.  I also took a fat quarter that I had in my stash and cut it in half, so that I had two 9 inch by 21 inch pieces.  Exact size is not super important here, so I wouldn’t worry about an extra inch or two here and there.  As long as the corners are square and the sides straight, it will all work out.


Fold the fabric in half so that it is now 11 inches by about 10.5 inches.  The fold will be the bottom of your bag and the opposite edge is the top.


At the top, make a mark an inch down from the top edge on each side.


Sew each side, beginning at the marked line and down to the bottom.  Repeat on the other side.


Now, at the top opening, with the wrong sides still out, make a fold about  quarter of an inch along the edge that did not get sewn towards the wrong side of the bag. Do this on all for unsewn top edges.  If this sound a little confusing, look at the photos and all should be clear.


To make this next step easier, you can iron that fold down, which will also force you to iron open the side seams a little.


Now, this is the fiddliest part.  You have to sew those folded edges so that there will not be any raw edges at the drawstring openings of your bags.  I start on one side, then turn the fabric just past the one inch mark where the side seam starts, sew just a few stitches to get past the seam, turn again, and then finish sewing at the top edge.


Here’s what it looks like when you are done.


Now, fold down the top edge down about three quarters of an inch and sew a seam all around the top about a half inch from the fold.



Go all the way around the top of the bag.  You will be sewing down those corner edges as well.


When you are finished, turn the bag right side out.

To insert the drawstrings, tie one end of some cotton yarn to a safety pin.  Insert it through one side opening and move the yarn around the bag top until you come back to where you started.


Cut the yarn about 3-4 inches long, with the bag undrawn and then tie your ends together.  Now do the same thing with another piece of yarn using the opening on the other side.  The bag should draw up at the top when you pull both pieces of string.


For a festive look, I stenciled on some snowflake designs.



The smaller bags from the fat quarter are just right for a skein of sock yarn.


The larger green bags I made can fit two or maybe even three skeins of yarn.


Of course, they can also be used for other things besides yarn.  They are a great reusable alternative to wrapping paper or could be used for packing on trips.  Basically, they have all sorts of uses!


These can be made into all sorts of sizes if you want to customize them for certain things.  One of these will definitely make its way into the Christmas giveaway box.  Just leave a comment for a chance to win.  Tell me how you would use one of these bags and which size you would prefer!

It’s Coming

For many, this winter has seemed interminable and never ending. We have had more than the usual number of winter storms and some unusually cold days for our area. Many of my friends and acquaintances and even random people at the store have expressed some despair over this cold, wet winter we have been having. For me, this winter has been one of the most pleasant in recent memory. I always feel that cold weather without snow is a waste and I have not been disappointed in that respect this year.


We’ve had multiple snowfalls and a couple of ice storms, which turn the world into some sort of glassy wonderland. If I am going to be stuck in the house because of the temperature, I like to be able to look at some beauty outside as well.

Despite all of this, I can sense that Spring is coming. The days are getting longer and the sun seems a tad more intense. I am thinking more about spring colors than deep, rich tones or grey shades.


The other day, I made these cute little pin cushions using this tutorial (oops looks like their server is down. I will add the linky later). Isn’t this a fun little project to get into the mood of spring?


In the process of making these, I used these little clover clips for the first time. Where have these been all my life? I love them! So much easier to use and lays flatter than pins. I think I need about a hundred more! Seriously, if you sew or knit, you need some of these. They come in different sizes and I plan to get them all.


I’m also finished with my hoegaarden cowl, which goes with the hoegaarden mitts and hat that I made last year. Whoa.


This is my first ever completed set of accessories that all match. Usually, I look a bit like that lady who can’t find matching sets of anything, so she goes out with five accessory items that all clash, but at least she is warm.


Now, I will look like I have it all together, which I SO totally don’t, but that’s ok, because we all know that looks are deceiving, right?


And now, it looks like I will have to cast on something new. And pink. Because spring, it’s coming.


After countless broken threads and struggles with slippery, shifty, t-shirt material, I was able to finish the top for my friend’s t-shirt blanket. Thanks to all who left comments on how to deal with the material. I decided in the end to just deal with the thread breaking every foot or two instead of adding any interfacing. Most of this was just because I had already done a good portion of sewing and the thought of undoing and redoing was too much to bear. If I were to ever deal with t-shirts again, however believe me when I say I will be buying bolts of the stuff. My machine and I developed a funny dance of sewing, thread breaking, and re-threading. I can only hope that it will not revolt on me when I go back to my usual quilting cotton later on.


Once I added the fleece backing, sewing went a lot smoother. Most of the tying was done during the Superbowl on Sunday night. Since my friend loves football, I thought it fitting to work on her blanket while the game was on. Good thing I was not too interested in the game because the blanket took all my attention. Everyone assures me that I did not really miss much and I was happy when the husband consented to let me watch Downton and Sherlock since that game was more or less done.


Today, I finished the edges and, suddenly, I find myself done. Even with all the pauses for breaking thread, it took about 15 hours to put this blanket together, which must be a record for me. For all the trouble it gave me, it wasn’t a huge investment in time and gave me some opportunity to reflect on how special this friend is to us. In the end, I am pleased with the results. I hope she likes it.


The blanket has the designs of more than 20 t-shirts and the finished size is roughly 75 inches square, big enough to snuggle under on the couch watching football. The fleece backing makes it nice and fuzzy and cozy and warm. Hopefully, it will bring lots of happy memories to her mind when she uses it. As for me, I think I will be pretty happy not to see another t-shirt in my sewing room for a very long time.


This weekend I started a new sewing project. A very good friend of mine asked me to make a t-shirt quilt from the many shirts she collected during her college years. Now, I have never before sewn with t-shirt fabric, but I was willing to give it a try. I have to say, it was a little unnerving to cut up someone else’s clothes, but after the first few, I got the hang of it.

There was a lot of math involved to figure out how to get all the designs incorporated without having to make any extra cuts. After five hours of cutting and arranging, my brain was very tired, but I had everything cut and labeled.


The material is very stretchy and that made it very difficult to get square and even cuts, but I am hoping with a half inch seam allowance and a zig-zag stitch, that any differences in block size will be eased in.


My machine had a lot of trouble adjusting at first. The thread kept breaking and I had trouble finding the right tension to keep the stitches flowing along nicely. Thankfully, we have decided to back the blanket with fleece and tie it, so after I assemble the top, all the sewing will be done except for the binding. I think my machine will thank me for that. I will let you know how it turns out.

Swapping Fun and Gifts

In my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, I don’t know a whole lot of people who love to bake, knit, or craft as much as I do. So, I spend a lot of time on Ravelry, a knitting facebook kind of group, I bake along with Tuesdays with Dorie, and I joined a do.good.stitches, a charity quilting group. In some groups, we do swaps to try to get to know other members better. It’s a great way to make friends who have common obsessions interests. Plus, who doesn’t love to shop for crafty supplies or get some unique yarn or a handmade gift?

My sewing group organized a secret swap recently, and we were each tasked to make something for our partner. I was a little apprehensive about this, since I am not as experienced a sewist as many others in the group, but I decided to dive in any way. The project I chose to make was a tote bag. I used the market tote pattern from a book called Patchwork Please . This one appealed to me because of the two large pockets on either side. I am a sucker for pockets and I often wonder why bags don’t have more of them.


To make the bag more interesting, I made patchwork panels on the outside instead of just using a large piece of fabric. I have to say, my favorite part of the bag are the handles. Aren’t they great?


And there’s another little pocket on the inside, too. Also, to make the bag sturdier, i used interfacing in the lining as well as the exterior. It was a challenging project for me, but I am pretty happy with the results, and I hope my partner likes it, too!


Yesterday, I received a package from my secret swap partner. This little quilt is fabulous, don’t you think? I love the way the colors interact with each other and make different designs, depending on the way you look at it.


I am going to hang this in my sewing corner so that it can in inspire me when I am in there. There were some extra goodies, too: a cute little bag (perfect for notions and things), cool fabric and a great quilt pattern that I am excited to make.


On the knitting side of things, I received a swap package from a fellow knitspot club member this week.


It was a fun box of goodies that has brightened up my very busy week. I especially love the indigo dyed yarn and the cute sheep ornament.


In our house recently, we have been talking a lot about the nature of giving and why we give gifts. As we enter into this gift giving season, it is too easy to get distracted by the gifts themselves rather than the reason behind them. We give gifts to show others that we care about their interests, their welfare, and we want to brighten their day. Without the love behind a gift, a gift becomes just an object without meaning, but with love, any gift, no matter the size or monetary value, can have immeasurable worth.

Sure, I can go out to the store and buy stuff that I want or need, but to get a gift, especially a handmade one, makes me feel loved and cared for. It is just one of the many ways we can show our love for each other, so I don’t advocate it as a substitute for love or concern. But, no matter what the gift, it is always a reminder that one is loved.