It is in the bag!

Simple formula for lined bag with your choice of size, handle and closure!  So easy it is already “in the bag”.


Working with new sewists, I am continually on the look out for quick to make and clever useful projects.  More experienced seamsters can whip these out in batches. Early in the game sewists can experience easy success!    Teacher gifts, party favors, so many uses!  I am considering small bags from theme fabric to house a bar of hand made soap for an upcoming bridal shower.

Start with scraps if you like.  You will need two same size longish rectangles.  The formula is as follows:

Desired bag width plus 1 inch for seam allowances.  Desired height of bag times 2.5 to 2.75 for a generous flap.  If you have a specific item to bag, measure it now!

Play around with what you have on hand to start with and have some fun!

Right sides together, with a quarter inch seam allowance, sew both rectangles along one short side.

Open this.  Press the seam allowance towards the lining, and under stitch.  Under stitching will roll the seam towards the lining so this edge looks really clean.


View of back side of bag after under stitching and top stitching!


Press and top stitch with a fancy stitch if you like.  If you plan to close your bag with hook and loop tape, include one side of the tape along the edge of the front of your bag now.


For a firmer flap add a bit of fusible interfacing!

Align your work and trim off any excess fabric that may be caused by the under stitching.    With right sides together, pin the pieces together and draw a fancy shape for the flap, or leave it straight.  A hex ruler might be a nice tool to keep both sides symmetrical.  Stitch this seam.  A straight seam would under stitch nicely!

Optional “wrap” the corners of your fancy cut flap.

Make a strap!  A 14×3 inch rectangle folded rst lengthwise, stitched with a quarter inch seam turned and top stitched works great.  As does ribbon, webbing or twill tapeimage

Pin your strap that has been folded in half with raw edges aligned to the raw edges of the bag and the folded edge towards the center of the bag.  Set it just below where your flap ends and the bag begins so that it ends up near the top of your bag.  Baste in place.  In the photo my strap raw edges extend past the raw edge of the bag. This adds security and keeps the selvages on the strap from showing on the finished bag.



Now on for the tricky part:  See above, pull the bottom of the bag so that it covers the strap.  Pin the bag (both layers) to the outside cover only of the front of the bag on the right and left sides.  Then slip the lining of the bag over the front of the bag.  This basically turns the bag wrong side out and the lining will form a loop on top with the outer bag also forming a loop on the bottom.  The bag portion will be tucked up into the flap, but only just past the strap.    The remainder will be the flap.  If you are creating a specific size bag to fit a particular item.  Now is the second good time to measure.  (The first would be before you cut the fabric.) In the photo I used clips, as I had lined these bags with PUL.



Side seam stitched with “L” seams!

Align right sides together, and make a 3/8 inch seam along this edge.  Making sure to back stitch over the strap to secure it.

Make sure the second side of you bag is lined up and symmetrical to the side you just sewed.

Create two “L” seams along this edge.  Start at the top and just about a half inch after you sew across the many layers of the sides of the bag.  Pivot and stitch to the edge creating a seam that looks like the capital letter “L”.  Then a few inches later along this edge, make another “L” seam that serves two purposes.  It leaves a clean and sturdy opening for turning and finishes the side seam of the bag.  A small bag needs a smaller opening than a larger bag.


Second half of “L” seam!

Suggested ratio would be to leave an opening half the length of the bag side.


Flip it the bag right side out, this may take multiple flipping to be sure the lining is on the inside.  Poke out corners with a handy tool (chopsticks work great here!).  Pin the opening closed with the raw edges neatly tucked inside.  Top stitch narrowly to ensure that the opening is securely closed.


Complete the closure by adding the other half of the hook and loop tape to the inside of the flap, or add snaps, buttonholes and buttons, or whatever makes your heart happy. Kam Snaps make my heart happy!  I get mine locally at Hip Stitch and would be glad to show you how easy they are to apply.  A pattern with measurements, and possibly kits will be available in July 2016.

This makes a great snack bag, holiday gift bag, cosmetics, or think fusible fleece for an electronics bag.

Happy sewing!  Joanimage









Owletts – Wallets with Owls.

 Be wise with your finances.

Years ago I was intrigued with a lazy girl pattern. I have not seen it in my local quilt shops lately, but found this link to the wonder wallet on line.  Perfect scrap project!

After making many of them for gifts, I noticed that there was a significant amount of wear at the corners.  So I thought that interfacing the entire outside of the wallet would be a good idea.

Also with the multi layers of fabric that bottom of the little wallet got super bulky really quickly, causing more wear on the wallet, and my supply of sewing machine needles.
So after much thought I made some revisions to how I constructed this little gem.

If the cover of the wallet wraps all the way around and all the raw edges of the pockets are enclosed in top stitching on the bottom, that would solve the bulk/wear/and corner turning problems I had encountered with the original design.

imageFirst, find three small prints that coordinate nicely.  I used these from Cotton and Steel that I found at my LQS.

Cut the outer layer and lower pocket 5.5 x 16 inches. medium pocket 5.5 x 5 inches and tall pocket 5.5 x 6 inches.  I used a woven fusible interfacing, which I cut the same size as the outer layer and lower pocket, and two pieces that were 5.5 x 2.5 and 5.5 x 3 respectively.  Cut a 1.5 inch strip of hook and loop tape.

Fuse the interfacing to the wrong sides of the fabric,  for the two smaller pieces, fold them in half and give them a nice press so that you can see where to apply that interfacing on one half of the piece.  Make sure that they are still 5.5 inches wide!  With these two pieces folded in half, edge stitch along the folded edge.

imageOn the largest piece. Mark a light pencil line four inches from the bottom of the longer piece on the wrong side of the fabric.  Fold up the raw edge to meet this line.  It will look like a two inch hem.  Then bring the raw edge of the other end to meet the first raw edge, and press.   The piece with both edges folded in will measure 5.5 x 8 inches.image

Fold it in half lengthwise, and mark 3/4 inch from the fold on both layers, both top and bottom of each end.  This is so the velcro can be centered.image

Place the cover on the table with the folded raw edges down and the smooth side up. On the side with the two inch fold, pin the soft side of the hook and loop tape to the edge of the cover between your markings.

Start stitching on the edge, like you would top stitch straight across, get to the hook and loop tape, stitch across it, and just before you get to the end of the tape, stop with the needle down, pivot and sew across the short edge of the tape, back across the bottom and up to the top again.  Then edge stitch to the other end of the line.

This puts a double line of stitching across the top of the velcro strip.  with a loop around the lower part of the velcro, and will secure it in place.

Layer the other two pocket layers behind the short one with the velcro attached.  Pin only the pocket layers, so that the three layers move independently from the rest of the wallet. It is important here, that you pin from the outside in, and that your pin heads are hanging over the outside of the fabric.  Flip this pocket layer down, and back around to the other side of the wallet.  You will only see the the back of the tallest pocket from this angle.image

Next, take the six inch flap and bring it up and back over itself, so that all you see is interfacing on either side.  add two more pins that also are pinned from the outside in.  from the side it will look like this:


The bottom of the little wallet will look like this with multiple raw edges and folds.  image

Stitch the longer sides with a scant 1/4 inch seam.  image

Remove your pins and start turning right side out by lifting the top layer over the whole assembly and pulling what is left out from under it.  Poke out the corners with a chopstick or other handy turning tool.  It will look like a bit of a mess.  We will need to do some turning.  Find the pockets and flip them over to the other side, poke out some more corners and here you are!


Top stitch the edges starting at the top of the pockets, and when you get to the top, be sure to loop Around all four edges of the corresponding part of the hook and loop tape in the center on the edge that would fold down to meet its counterpart.








Mind Your P’s and Q’s


The Oxford Dictionary lists multiple meanings for this proper and quaint saying “mind your p’s and q”s.   I always considered it akin to mind your own beeswax.  Oh boy our language is full of interesting twists and turns!  There is the story about wild ruckus starting out at a public house – pub for short, and the land lord or land lady, now known as the pub keeper, or bartender shouts out a command to the rest of the patrons to mind their p’s and q’s.  This is rather a reminder to use one’s best manners, and focus on the pints and quarts of lager (beer) in front of the patron.  Rather like minding ones own business or beeswax.  Which is also a form of politeness.  I love the please and thank you reference!  Wish I had known this when my children were small, to use as a gentle reminder to use those magic words.  This would have been a useful tool combined with ASL to remind a little one to say thank you or please, or a number of little niceties that make the world a sweeter place.  A simple and silent hand signal to a child like the pub keeper’s call to the patrons.  Bar tending and child tending have much in common, but I digress here…

Today I want to share why I made these sweet little fabric baskets.  My family is continuing to make the progression from plastic to glass.  First the kids are older, now and less prone to dropping. The rainbow of plastic cups I purchased years ago with the intent of each child using a particular color during the day and only using one cup per day was well thought out, but not put into practice by my children or their friends, so often it was like Easter around our house with many colored plastic cups around the house.  I was also guilty, as I did not want to drink out of the same cup that was left by someone else, and I did not always remember if I was using the magenta or purple that day, so all to often I just pulled a second (or third) out of the cabinet.  Defeating the entire purpose.  Then there was one lone canning jar or maybe two that got put into the cup cabinet (by some sweet soul who emptied the dishwasher) before making its way towards longer term storage until the next canning season.  The cool thing was, they were so uncool, that no one else would touch them.  I always knew which was my “cup” and could refill in germ free bliss all throughout the day.  Water tastes better from glass.  Plastic has a bad reputation for leaching toxins.  My DH was on board with glass, and we cleared the plastic from the cup cabinet.  Glass breaks, though, and as tough as they are, canning jars can crack.  A protective cover, with some sort of hanging loop that would keep cool water cool was needed.

My first version looks like this. mason jar cozy It is a sweet way to use those wonderful Kam Snaps that come in a mind blowing number of colors.  It is a great small project for a begining sewist.  InsulBright does the job in keeping that layer of air trapped around your jar, holding it’s temperature a little bit longer.  I wanted then to enclose the bottom of the jar entirely, as that would help with coffee table rings and such, but keeping the bulk at the bottom to a minimum is a must, because a jar full of liquid that is not stable will do more harm than a simple coffee table ring.

I saw this wonderful post from SewMamaSew that has a nice design for what I really wanted, a top and a bottom, and I made a few adjustments.

First, there are so many lovely fabrics that I wanted to include several, and I love the look of a belt (small strip/pop of color near the center of a project, like a birthday card).  Like the flat piping or flange on a sweet pillow case.  It is easy and makes a nice difference.

Second, less bulk.  Two side seams are not necessary.  I cut the fusible fleece smaller than the body of the cover which leaves a 1/2 inch margin all round, so that the seams do not include any fleece, and sides (and most importantly) bottom has no extra bulk that could cause uneven seating and gasp…tipping!

Third, more sizes.  A pint of tea is nice.  Perfect for a smoothie or protein shake, but if you are leaving the house for the duration, a quart of tea is really nice, and this little cozy will keep that tea hot for hours (like two or more).  Be sure to put the jar in the cozy first, and fold the top down a bit, so hot water can be poured, and you do not need to fit a piping hot jar into a snug cozy.

Canning jars come in a plethora of sizes.  The 24 oz jar fits nicely in the quart size, and not sure what one would want to tote in a half pint jar, maybe applesauce or another snack, but it would fit with room to spare in a pint-sized cozy.  Ball makes super handy tops regular and wide mouth,  that fit a straw.  Drinking out of a lovely quilted bag is so hot or cool, which ever you prefer.  Go for the wide mouth if you will be using a fork or spoon, trust me on this one.

On to the how part of this!



Lining 13 x 8.5
Fusible fleece 12 x 7.5
Top 13 x 3
Bottom 13 x 6
Casing  2 @ 3 x 6.5
Flat piping 13 x 1.5
 drawstring  2 @ 20
Lining 14 x 10.5
Fusible fleece 13 x 9.5
Top 14 x 4
Bottom  14 x 7
Casing  2 @ 3 x 7
Flat piping  1.5 x 14
drawstring  2 @ 20
All measurements are in inches
First pull those flat piping and casing pieces and fold them in half lengthwise and give them a nice press.  Use starch or best press to make them behave.  Those in the photo have been pressed.
Second, with a scant 1/4 inch seam, baste the flat piping to the top of the bottom strip.  long sides together, and right sides together. You can use a magnetic seam guide for more accurate stitching or a vintage business card calendar (from 2003) that has a little more height than a regular card.

Then flip this over so you can see the wrong side, and slide the top strip underneath so that the right sides are together, this way,  you can see the stitching line you just made, and stitch right on top of that, or perhaps just a thread’s width to the left of it.  This will keep your first line of stitching hidden.


Next, open the piece, and with the flat piping pointing downward or to your left, top stitch the seam allowances from the right side of the project.


Next cut the casing in half so that you have two pressed rectangles.IMG_1678

Open up the rectangle casings, and hem each of the four three-inch sides, by folding over 1/4 inch twice, so your raw edges are nicely tucked in.


Fold your lining in half, then almost in half again, placing the center fold 3/8 inch away from the raw edges.  Finger press or mark the last fold you made. Wheels are perfect for the person who takes their home-brewed beverage on the go.  If you plan to stay home, or are dressing up, a full on Tea Cozy may be the answer.


Fold each of the casing pieces in half by matching up the hems.  Finger press or mark the center fold.


Match up the center creases with the top edge of the lining piece, right sides together.  If your fabric is directional, pay attention to which end should go up!



Fold the lining in half right sides together, and make a seam from the top to the bottom with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Open this up and finger press the seam open.  place that seam (that you have just finger pressed open) in the center, and stitch across the bottom with a 3/8 inch seam allowance,  Set the lining aside.



For the main body of your bag, center the fusible side (bumpy with little dots of fusible glue) of the fusible fleece against the wrong side of the bag body.  You should have approximately 1/2 inch margin all the way around.  Hold this steady and place  fleece side down on your ironing surface.  Feel the edges to be sure that margin is still even all the way round. You will be ironing on the right side of your cotton fabric.

Press to secure the fleece to the fabric.

At this point, you can top stitch the loose edge of the flat piping to the body of the bag.

You can also choose to use quilt batting, InsulBright, Annies Soft and Stable or if you are going really green, some upcycled material to the back side of your bag front.  Quilt until you are happy.

While we are diverting here, this project can also be made in multiple dimensions, for instance, I have used Annies Soft and Stable and laminated cotton in a project called waisties, or catch alls.  A great little storage tote, or place to contain scraps and thread while you are creating.

I like fusible fleece, it is fast, stays put,  and requires no quilting.  Sometimes it is a matter of what is at hand!

Fold the cover right sides together and stitch that side seam top to bottom with half-inch seam allowance.  Your seam should come to the edge of the fleece and possibly include a tad of it here and there.

Press the seam open, and match it to the center, then seam the bottom closed just like you did the lining, with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.



Here are the bag and lining.  Mark a square on each bottom corner.  On each side the edges will be the seam on the bottom and the folded edge on either side.  .  For pints, mark a 1 inch square, for quarts, mark a 1.125 inch square.


Clip these corners on your markings.  Notice the parts that were clipped out do not look square.  That is because of the seam allowance on the bottom.  (if you have a local non-profit, or day care, with an art room like Explora, they are happy for your fabric scraps.  I put a bag, or empty cereal box near my cutting table and toss all the usable – but too small for me – scraps in there and deliver it periodically.)  The bag is then opened up and folded so that it looks like the photo below:


Do this for both the lining and the bag.


Make a seam across each of the two openings on the bag and the lining.  I used a 3/8 inch seam allowance here.  Be sure to secure the beginning and end of each seam, and make sure that the seam across the bottom lies flat one way or the other.

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The boxed bottoms of your bag and lining will look like the photo above.

Turn your bag right side out, and matching up the seams, slip it into the lining. See photo below.

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Seam almost all the way around the top of the bag with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Leave an opening that is at least 2.5 inches wide. If your machine is fancy and has a bed that can be removed for making cuffs, that could be handy here.(null) (15)

I like to use an “L” seam which has you start at the edge of the fabric, sew in to the fabric seam allowance, needle down, presser foot up, then pivot and stitch around the seam till you get to the other end of your opening, then needle down, presser foot up, and pivot so you sew off the raw edge.  This makes turning easier and leaves less loose threads in your opening.

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Above, I have highlighted the “L” seam with pencil.   Reach into this opening, and find the bottom of the insulated bag, and pull it out.  Then pull out the lining, and turn it right side out.  It will look like the photo below.

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Tuck the bag back inside the lining, and poke out the corners at the bottom with your fingers.  IMG_1706 (1)

Top stitch around the bag with the bag side up.  Do this on the very top edge of your bag, and you will close that opening.  No handstitching required.


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Fold down the cuff, and voila!  Seriously cute fabric bags (or buckets) are revealed.

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Better yet, they are reversible!  A fabulous option for those like me who can not commit to one or two fabrics, or for using up those bits and bobs left over from larger projects.


Only two of these are in the photo above.  The center bucket is for a quart size jar, and much taller!

You can stop here, and have cute little cozies for your jars, and water bottles.  Or you can keep going and add a pair of drawstrings!  I like to cut a meter of poly cording, cut that in half and melt the ends enough to keep them from fraying.


About an inch or so above the flame is enough to get those fibers to melt.  Too close and they will char or catch fire.


Thread those cords through your casings with a bodkin, or in a pinch, tie them around a crochet hook, that works rather bodkin-like.  Gently tug on two ends to make sure they are two ends of the same cord, then tie them at the end in an over hand knot.  Then you can tie the other two together, and twist it around, so there is a knot coming out each end of the cozy.


Knot the top and you are ready to go.  Pack a salad in a wide mouth pint jar, a quart of hot or iced tea (or even coffee) that you brewed at home and spend that frappuccino money somewhere really fun like Hip Stitch on a Third Thursday!

This is the most fun place for fabrics and inspiration.  I found all of these fabrics there in January of 2016, if you hurry, there might still be some, or perhaps a kit, that is pre cut and ready for you to stitch right up!  They even will ship something to you, if you mind your p’s and q’s and ask nicely.

Fabrics used:

Tucker Prairie by One Canoe Two for Moda Fabrics  – Aster and Stormy Daisy

Life… Enjoy the Ride Gray Wheels designed by Tina Higgins Designs and licensed to quilting treasures.

Canyon Succulent Moonlight by Kate Spain for Moda

Blueberry Park Pickle, Nectarine by Karen Lewis Robert Kaufman

Ardently Austen  and Love Bugs- Riley Blake

Sparkle – White

Zuzu – Red Black Timeless Treasures


Kimono Garden by Pippa Moon