Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day Winner!

Thank you to everyone who came by enter the first giveaway for this blog!  I am thrilled to have welcomed so many people, regular follower as well as new, to my blog this week.  I know I discovered a few new blogs to follow in the last few days, and I hope you have too!

SMS Pouch Giveaway

This pair of zippered pouches will have a new home with:

Winning Screen Shot

Congratulations Catrin!  I have sent you an email, and I hope you enjoy your new pouches!

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day: Zippered Pouches

Today, in conjunction with Sew Mama Sew‘s Giveaway day, is the first giveaway I have done on this blog.  My blog is about five months old now, and I am excited to offer the chance to win these zippered pouches to all of my visitors.  I am very grateful for the kind words and support offered by those who have joined me in these early months, and I am excited to welcome new friends as well!

SMS Pouch Giveaway

I am trained as a theatrical scenic and costume designer and technician, but this blog focuses on my life outside of the theatre- The (not so) Dramatic Life.  Most of the work I share here is quilting related, but other sewing projects pop up from time to time.  My big project for the year is Mini Quilt Mania, for which I am creating a new mini quilt almost every week of the year for a total of 50 quilts.  I have done 18 so far, and I am thoroughly enjoying the process!

Pouch Lining

Pouch Lining

There are two zippered pouches in this giveaway.  They each have a blue denim exterior and are fully lined and trimmed with a cotton print from Amy Butler’s Violette fabric line.  The larger pouch is 6″x10″x4.5″ and would be a great container for carrying small projects or corralling toiletries when you travel.

The smaller pouch is an octagon measuring about 3.75″x3.75″ and is grommeted for use as a key ring.  This is perfect for carrying a little money, a phone charger, or thumb drive.  I have written a tutorial for creating this cord/coin pouch if you would like to make your own!

Would you like to enter to win this pair of pouches?  It’s easy- here’s how:

  • Leave a comment on this post telling me what project(s) you are working on right now and/or what your quilting or sewing goals are.  Is there a pattern you want to make? A technique you would like to try? A fabric line you are eager to use?  Is there a tutorial you would like to see made?  I love hearing what you are up to and interested in!
  • Followers, both long time and new, get a bonus entry!  Near the top of the sidebar there are several options for following me including Bloglovin’, Instagram, and Pinterest.  To get the bonus entry please leave a comment telling me how you follow.

This giveaway is open through 5pm PST on Sunday, May 10.  All comments on this post received by that time will be included in a random drawing.

I will email and post the winner on the blog on or before Wednesday, May 13.  Once I have the shipping address for the winner, your package will be in the mail by Friday, May 15.  (Should the winner not respond with a shipping address by Friday, May 15, I will draw a new winner and contact them via email and the blog)

There are lots more fantastic giveaways of both hand crafted items and supplies at Sew Mama Sew, so be sure to check those out as well!  Good Luck!

Update from May 11, 2015:  The winner of this giveaway is Catrin Lewis- Congratulations Catrin!  

Here are some other posts you may enjoy!

Mini Quilt Mania

Mini Quilt Mania

Rainbow Roundabout Mini Quilt

Rainbow Rotary

Marsala Mini Quilt

Marsala Mini

Winter Trees Mini Quilt

Winter Trees

Cord/Coin Pouches

Cord/Coin Pouches

Create Your Own Tote Bag Tutorial Series

Create Your Own Tote Bag Tutorial Series

2015 Second Quarter Finish Goals

I can hardly believe we are entering the second quarter of 2015!  This time around I have a unrealistically long list and a mix of goals: a dozen mini quilts, a few larger projects, a couple bags, a some smaller gifts.  2015 Finish Along Q2

I am excited to once again join in the Finish Along fun with Adrianne at On the Windy Side!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Goals 1-12

In order to keep up with Mini Quilt Mania I am planning to make a dozen more mini quilts for the second quarter of this year.  These are in various stages of completion: sketches, patterns drafted, fabrics chosen, and a couple are even being sewn!

Quilt 5 / 50

Goal 13

In January I started a starburst quilt based on my Happy New Year! mini quilt, and this project is a rollover from Q1.  I have this piece about half quilted right now, and I would really like to get this one finished up this quarter!Starburst process

Goal 14

For my Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake challenge quilt I am making a “potholder” style quilt using hexagonal bound blocks rather than the more traditional squares.  This quilt will be completely reversible, with one side being predominantly turquoise with the other side leaning toward the pinks in the collection.  Right now the quilt is about halfway pieced.Riley Blake process

Goal 15

I knew as soon as I saw the Viewfinder fabric in Melody Miller’s Playful collection by Cotton and Steel that I wanted a Quilted Purse made with it.  I am slightly scaling up the pattern I created for my current purse.  I have set the zipper into the top panel, quilted the main fabric, and made the handles.Purse process

Goal 16

Sometimes I wish I had a Cross-body bag to carry when I need a more hands-free shopping (or quilt show) experience.  I have sketched the design, pulled fabrics, and I am looking for a source for a double tab purse zipper that is at least 30″.  This shouldn’t be so hard to find- I mean- you must be able to buy luggage zippers, right?  Any sourcing suggestions?

Goal 17

I designed and made these cute little blocks for my Baubles Quilt months ago.  I need to put together a top and get this thing quilted and finished!Baubles Blocks

Goal 18

This Secret Project (roll over from Q1) is still quilted, ready for finishing, and needs to stop hanging out under my work table! Here’s hoping this quilt makes it into a finished pile this quarter!secret project process

Goal 19

I am going to be needing a few small thank you gifts for this summer, so I am hoping to get six (or more) cord/coin pouches made.Cord pouch fabric

Goal 20

This quilted pillow top needs a zippered back and finishing.Pillow Top

Goal 21

I bought this fabric last summer to make a skirt.  Now that it is warming up again I need to get this made up!Skirt Fabric

Goal 22

I recently started another Bionic Bag, and I will be finishing it up in Q2.  I have all my pieces cut, interfacing fused, zippers installed, sides assembled, and the outer panel quilted.Bionic Bag process

Goal 23

I started a set of placemats last fall.  I have a set of four that just need the binding finished.

placemat process

Goal 24

I started sewing this hexagon project when I needed some handwork.  I’m not entirely certain how large this is going to get, but I’m hoping to discover what exactly this wants to be.Hexagon process

Goal 25

In the first quarter I created a baby quilt sized Sweet and Simple Hashtag Quilt.  This quarter I will be making a lap quilt size version of this quilt.

Sweet and Simple Hashtag Quilt

Goal 26

This summer I’ll be working as a theatrical cutter/draper. (A draper uses the performer’s measurements to create patterns for a costume.)  I haven’t done this in awhile (I’m pretty excited to return to it!), and when I pulled out my sewing apron it was really worn.  I will definitely need to find time to make a replacement before I leave for this job!  I have some denim left over from another project, and I am still deciding what fabric to use for the accent.  These are my top choices right now.Apron fabric

This list is super long, and I recognize that a some of these projects may not get finished (or even touched) this quarter, but a lot of items are pretty far along, so once again I am cautiously optimistic!


Tote Bag Tutorial Part 5: Finishing Techniques

Welcome to Part 5 in out tote bag series!  This week is all about finishing up a few details.  Aren’t you thrilled that you have made it this far?  Before you know it, you will be carrying this fabulous bag around that you didn’t just make- you designed!  As always, please contact me with any questions.  You may email me or leave a comment, and I will do my best to give you a clear answer!

If you are just joining us, this is a 5 part series.  Here are the other segments:

When last we left our glorious tote bag, we had just turned it right side out.  Have you ever had a bag where the lining pops up almost every time you pull something out?  This next step will keep this from happening.  We are going to stitch the lining and the outer layer shaping seams together.  Make sure the lining is laying smoothly in the bag and that the side seams and shaping seams are pretty close to matching up.  Doing your best to not get things too twisted around, reach inside the opening you used to turn the bag right side out, grab the seam allowances of the lining and outer shaping seam on one side of the bag and gently pull them through the opening.  Pin the seam allowances together or use clover clips to hold the seams in place. (I just got some clover clips, and I am in love!)  This is a good time to carefully push the shaping seams back through the opening just to check that nothing managed to get twisted around during the previous process.  Note:  Count the number of pins going in, and make sure the same number come back out- It’s no fun to discover a  pin after everything is all sewn up!    Another Note: The type of lining technique in this photo is slightly different (it is a two piece lining) than the one you are using, so your’s will look a bit different with everything pulled through the lining opening.  I forgot to take a new photo when I made a bag using the new technique, but I will update the image when I make another.  The idea is the same, though.Pinning the Outer and Lining shaping seams together

Everything laying well?  Great!  Gently pull the seam back out and zig zag the seam allowances together.  As long as you stay in the seam allowance and don’t cross the stitching line, you are doing this correctly.  If you have a machine that only does a straight stitch go ahead and use it- we just want to secure the bottom of the lining to the main bag.Stitching the Outer and Lining Shaping Seams together

Looks good?  Go ahead and repeat the process on the other side of the bag.

Now you can close up the opening in the bag lining.  You can do this by machine or by hand.  When I do this step by hand, I find that a nice small slip stitch looks great.  I often sew the opening up with the sewing machine since it is rarely seen up close, remains durable over the life of the bag, and is super quick.  If you are doing the machine method, press the seam allowances to the inside, line up the edges of the opening, pin carefully and stitch across the opening about 1/8″ ( or a little less) from the edge.Closing the Lining Opening

Now we are down to buttons- Almost there!  You will want to place your buttons so they are centered with your buttonholes.  Make sure your bag is laying nice and flat and then use a fabric safe pen or pencil to make a dot where the button should be placed.  You can mark this right through the buttonhole opening to help with accuracy.

There are two basic types of buttons:  flat buttons and buttons with shanks.  A flat button typically has either two or four holes that go all the way through the top of the button.  A button with a shank has a loop of either metal or plastic on the back used to attach the button.  This type of button is often appealing since the top of the button can have a decorative design that is uninterrupted by thread crossing between holes.  Unless you are sewing a button on that is only decorative, you need to plan to have a shank, so if you are using a flat button, you will create a shank with thread as you sew the button in place.  The shank of the button provides a slight gap between the fabric and the button that allows the layer of fabric with the buttonhole to fit without any strange pulling, puckering and gapping.  A really thin blouse would require only a very short shank, but a heavy, wool, winter coat would require buttons with a much longer shank.  This tote bag will need a shank about 1/8″ long.  Don’t worry if it gets a bit too long or even a little too short.Button Types

The button with a shank is pretty easy to sew.  Use a double thread and stitch though the fabric and the shank of the button several times (I usually take about six to eight stitches per button).  It is important to stitch through all of the fabric layers so there isn’t any weird pulling.  Try to keep the back of things neat since you will see this side from time to time.  Tie a couple knots at the base of the button, bury the thread tails between the layers of fabric, and call it a button!Button with Shank

When creating your own thread shank, you will need to leave a slight gap between the fabric and the button that will become the space for the shank.  To help with this spacing you can place something like a toothpick, a couple straight pins, or a thin skewer under the button.  You can also purchase a little plastic sewing device that helps you achieve a consistent spacing.  Using a double thread, sew through the holes of the button and the fabric about six to eight times total (you can split this number of stitches between two sets of holes).  Flat Button A

Next, remove any spacing tools and wrap the sewing thread around the thread gap between the button and fabric.  You will want to go around 3-5 times for most button shanks.Flat Button B

The last time around tie a knot at the base.  I always do a second knot for security before burying the thread tails.Flat Button C

There you have it- your custom designed tote bag!  Congratulations!  All that is left is for the complements to roll in!Tote Bag A
I’m linking this post up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter.  Please stop in to see all of the inspiring works in progress and useful tips and tutorials!

Tote Bag Tutorial Part 4: Assembling the Bag

Welcome to Part 4 in out tote bag series!  This week is a lot of fun because we get to see our bags really come together.  All of these tutorial posts are pretty long, and this is no exception.  To keep it a bit more manageable, I have added a section to this site for Tips and Techniques, and I will be linking to topics within that category throughout this post.  The addition of this section will also make basic techniques more easily accessible as a reference.  As always, please contact me with any questions.  You may email me or leave a comment, and I will do my best to give you a clear answer!

The following Technique pages are referred to in this post:

If you are just joining us, this is a 5 part series.  Here are the other segments (links are updated as posts are added):

Pull out all of the beautifully cut tote bag pieces from last week and locate the canvas pieces and the bag top and bottom exterior fabric pieces.  Flatline the canvas pieces to the outer fabric pieces.  For this project you will want to finish the edges of the pieces as described in the flatlining tutorial.Pressed Flatlined Pieces

In a few steps, we will need to see the precise placement of the bag handles on the exterior of the bag.  To achieve this, we need to Thread Trace the bag placement lines.

Front View of the Uneven Basting Stitch

Front View of the Uneven Basting Stitch

Next we are going to prepare the pockets to be attached to the bag.  The pocket sides will be incased by the bag handles, and the pocket bottom will become a part of the seam attaching the bag top to the bag bottom.  That just leaves us the top of each pocket to deal with right now.

Find the exterior (with interfacing attached) and lining pieces for the rectangular pocket.  Place the pieces right sides together and pin and stitch along the top line.  Grade the seam allowance before turning the pocket right side out.  Carefully press the seam allowance toward the lining fabric.  Understitch the seam allowance to the lining fabric.  Lay the pocket out flat and give it a final press.

Find the exterior (with interfacing attached) and lining pieces for the pocket with flap.  Place the pieces right sides together and pin and stitch along the flap edge, pivoting with the needle down at any corners.  Notch and grade the seam allowance before turning the pocket right side out.  Lay the pocket out flat and give it a final press.  Under-stitching is really difficult on seams of this shape, so careful pressing is essential.

Find the exterior (with interfacing attached) and lining pieces for the curved top pocket.  Place the pieces right sides together and pin and stitch along the curved line.  Clip and grade the seam allowance before turning the pocket right side out.  Carefully press the seam allowance toward the lining fabric.  Under-stitch the seam allowance to the lining fabric.  Lay the pocket out flat and give it a final press.

There are button closures on two pockets which require a buttonhole on both the curved pocket and the pocket with a flap.  Pull out the buttons you plan to use for these pockets.  Determine the size of the button hole by measuring the thickness of the button and adding it to the diameter of the button.  You will always want to make a test buttonhole on a scrap of the fabric you are using for the project.  Follow the buttonhole directions for your sewing machine, cut open the sample hole and test the size by moving the button through the opening.  If it is too loose or too tight, adjust the size and make another test buttonhole.  Once you know the size of the buttonhole, determine where you would like it to be placed on the pocket.  I usually use a center placement since I like symmetrical pockets, but an asymmetrical pocket may look better with a different buttonhole placement.  Mark your buttonholes on the pockets using a fabric pencil or pin that will disappear over time or with washing.  Make the buttonholes and cut them open.

Take out one piece of the bag top and the curved pocket.  Place the bag top piece right side up.  Place the pocket between the handle placement lines.  The bottom of the pocket should line up with the bottom edge of the bag top piece.  The sides of the pocket should extend about 1/2″ into each handle placement lines.  Baste the pockets into place either by hand or machine.  The basting stitches should fall at the edges of the pocket, well within the handle placement lines.Pocket Placement Diagram_Curved Pocket

Finished Curved Pocket with side and bottom edges incased

Finished Curved Pocket with side and bottom edges incased

For the other side of the bag you will need the bag top piece as well as the rectangular pocket and the pocket with flap.  Place the bag top piece right side up.  Lay the pocket with flap lining side up between the handle placement lines.  On top of the pocket with flap, place the rectangular pocket exterior side up.  Make sure to line up the pockets with the bottom edge of the bag top and between the handle placement lines.  Baste in place, just as you did with the curved pocket.  You will notice that you have actually created two pockets on this side of the bag.  The front pocket will be covered with the button flap.  Behind the flap layer is a pocket with an open top.Pocket Placement Diagram_Pocket with flap

Finished Pocket with flap open and side and bottom edges incased

Finished Pocket with flap open and side and bottom edges incased

Finished pocket with flap closed

Finished pocket with flap closed

Now we are going to assemble the side seams.  Place the bag tops right sides together, making sure the top of the pieces are going the same direction.  Pin and stitch the side seams on the stitching lines.  Sewn Bag Top Side Seam

Press the side seams open.Bag Top side seam pressed open

For the bag bottom, fold the piece in half lengthwise with the right sides together (when folded, it should look like the pattern piece).  Pin and stitch both side seams.  Press open the seams.Stitching Bag Bottom Side seam

Pin the shaping seam for the bag bottom.  The side seam should match up with the center of the bag bottom.  Pin and stitch on the line.Sewn Shaping Seam

Place the pieces for the bag lining right sides together.  Pin and stitch the side seams on the stitching lines, finish the raw edges, then press the seams open.  Finishing Raw Edges

Pressing the lining seam open

You will also want to pin and stitch the bottom of the bag, leaving several inches in the center of the seam open.  This opening is what you will use to turn the finished bag right side out, so don’t try to make it too small.  Pin and stitch the shaping seams of the bag lining.  When lining this seam up, the side seam will match up to the bottom seam.

With right sides together, pin and stitch the top of the bag top to the top of the bag lining.  Since this is a circular seam, you will want to match the side seams up to start with.  Pinned top seam

Grade the seam allowance and press it toward the lining.  Understitch the seam allowance to the lining of the bag.Understitching Front View

Situate the bag so the right side of the bag upper is readily accessible and the lining is pulled out away from the bag top.  We are now going to position the bag handles.  Before cutting the webbing, estimate the length you think you will need and pin it roughly in place.  Check the length and when you are happy, mark the length, unpin it, and cut two sections of webbing exactly the length.  Starting at the each end of the webbing, pin the webbing carefully in place between the handle placement thread tracing lines.  Double check that the handles didn’t get twisted in the pinning process.  Pinning the handles in place

Stitch up one side of the handle, across the top of the webbing (just before you reach the top of the bag where it joins the lining) and back down the other side of the webbing.  Make sure you have the lining out of the way, so it doesn’t get caught up in the handle stitching.  Repeat this process for each section of handle.Sewing down the webbing handles

With right sides together, pin and stitch the bag bottom to the bag top.  Hint:  I turn the bag bottom right side out, the bag top wrong side out, and slip the bag bottom inside the bag top.Bag Top pinned to Bag Bottom

Clip the bag top seam allowance just outside the bag handles.  Press the bag top to bag bottom seam open at the bag sides and down at the pocket and handle sections.

Turn the bag right side out and press the lining toward the inside at the top edge.  Pressing the lining to the inside of the bag

You are almost there- Next week we’ll be finishing up!

I am linking this post up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Please look in to see what everyone is working on!