More Zippered Bags (Because, Of Course)

I can’t stop sewing them. And I don’t want to stop!

All of these were adapted versions of Elizabeth Hartman’s Perfect Zip Bag pattern. I learned that leather and suede make are delightful to work with, as long as I have the patience to put the walking foot on my machine before I start sewing.

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Sewing for Me: Pink Chalk Studio Mail Sack


Usually I sew for others. That brings me joy, and I love that. But the sewing projects that I plan for myself get set aside. This month, I finally finished one of those projects that I had been planning to do for years.

I wanted to make myself a Pink Chalk Studio Mail Sack. I have sewn this pattern several times as a gift and it goes together quickly and easily. The internal zippered pocket is so slick. It looks professional but takes very little effort to assemble. I love that!


I should have shortened the strap for this one. The bag is a bit longer than I usually like, but I don’t think it will bother me very much. Usually I have to sling my bag over several layers of shirt/sweater/winter coat/scarf, so the long strap leaves room for all of those layers.


Working on this project finally gave me the courage to cut into some of that lovely Melody Miller typewriter fabric that I had been saving. I love that print, but I’ve been hoarding it instead of using it. Now that I have made something out of it, I can appreciate its beauty through everyday use, and not let it languish in a corner of my sewing room!

Shiny Things

I’m attracted to metallic zippers. They are more difficult to sew with and they scare me a little, but I love the way they look. The thing that bothers me is that you cannot enclose a metallic zipper’s ends into a seam the way that you can with a plain old plastic zipper, which means that I can’t use some of my favorite finishing techniques the same way I usually do.

I used this Boxy Bag Tutorial to make some metallic zippered bags. IMG_1353

These sew up very quickly. Although I am not a fan of exposed inner seams, this tutorial covers them up nicely with a tight zigzag stitch. If everything is cleaned up and trimmed at the end, they still look professional.


I used some of my goofy glasses novelty print for the outside and some Moda punctuation print for the lining of each bag.


I adjusted the tutorial sizes as instructed for a 9 inch zipper and a 14 inch zipper.


The next time I make these boxy pouches, I will use another layer of interfacing for the larger bags. They get all floppy if they don’t have extra layers of structure inside. I used fusible fleece to interface both of these bags. The small bag looks great, but the 14″ zipper bag doesn’t have the sturdiness it needs to stand up to regular use.

Things I’ve Made for People I Like

It has been months since I last posted. Life got in the way for a little while. But I miss writing about what I have sewn, so it’s time for a little catch-up.

I managed to meet most of my sewing goals for Christmas this year. That meant hand sewn gifts for most of the people on my giving list. I even finished some long projects that had lingered around my sewing room for years! This baby quilt had haunted me for years, and now it’s finally done and given to the baby (now a toddler) who it was meant for.




I used some Aneela Hoey charm packs that I picked up at the Quilt Expo a few years ago. I love her charming prints for little ones. The pattern is the Patchwork Chevron Quilt tutorial that Jeni Baker did for Moda Bake Shop, reduced slightly in size. The lovely ladies at Material Matters in Thiensville did the quilting.


IMG_1268This little zippered clutch was made from a pattern in the new and amazing book School of Sewing. It is the best instructional beginner sewing book that I have found. I’m a confident sewist, and I still learned new tricks from Shea’s book. I was thrilled to make this clutch entirely from fabric, notions, and hardware that I had in my stash. This went to my young cousin Abby.

IMG_1271This drawstring bag was made from my favorite standby pattern by Jeni Baker. I packed it full of yarn and knitting needles for my niece who showed an interest in learning how to knit.


My husband’s secretary loves to knit, so she also got a drawstring bag with coordinating sock yarn.



My two-year-old nephew is a hands-on, active kid. I used Badskirt’s tutorial to make these beanbags. They were tons of fun to make, sewed up quickly, and they’re fun to play with. I felt that I really needed to test them, so I confess that Peter and I tossed them around the house a few times before I wrapped them up for my nephew.

That’s a quick peek at my holiday gift sewing. What have you sewn for people that you like lately?

An Aggressively Awesome Fall: What it’s all about

IMG_0903It’s been a heck of a year. Everybody has tough stuff going on, so I’m not going to go into my own challenges. But I really need something in my future to make things look more rosy.

My husband and I decided that we were going to combat a disastrous winter, a sloppy spring, and a lackluster summer with an “aggressively awesome” fall. That means that we are not going to waste any moment. We made a list of fun stuff that we want to do between now and the end of November. I’m not sure if we’ll get around to all of it, but here’s what I have planned for an aggressively awesome fall:

  • Put away spring/summer clothes and get fall/winter clothes out of storage
  • Eat a “Snap-O-Lantern” ice cream cone at the The Chocolate Factory
  • Go to an apple orchard
  • Have a backyard campfire
  • Make and eat pumpkin waffles
  • Drink pumpkin-y drinks at the Cedarburg Coffee Roastery
  • Make and eat black bean sweet potato tacos
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Do a taste test of various Oktoberfest beers
  • Make chili and biscuits
  • Take a bike ride to Atlas BBQ in Grafton
  • Make apple crisp
  • Make applesauce
  • Knit
  • Read a mystery novel
  • Use up some more of our City Tin coasters
  • Visit the Ozaukee County Historical Society
  • Take a “sweater walk” downtown
  • Make hot buttered rum
  • Plan Christmas gifts for our family
  • Make mulled wine, and possibly share a batch with friends
  • Plan for a spring trip to Nashville
  • Make gingerbread
  • Spend afternoons at the biergarten
  • Bake molasses biscotti
  • Do a photo shoot with finished knit/sewn items at the historic Cedarburg depot
  • Run a Turkey Trot

What are your plans for a memorable fall?

What We’re Eating This Week: September 7-12

IMG_0900Home cooked food is important to me. My husband and I put forth a great deal of effort (and let’s face it, a decent portion of our household budget) to eat well. It takes time each weekend for us to cook up the food we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the work week.

I love sharing recipes and hearing about what other people make at home. Maybe you like that too? This is a start of a semi-weekly feature round-up with links to the recipes I cook each week to feed my family.

So, in the spirit of sharing the wealth of great recipes, here is a round-up of what we will be eating this week:

Red wine poached pears served with vanilla ice cream

Five minute hummus from Real Simple

Pumpkin pecan scones with brown butter glaze from Joy the Baker

Spicy vegetarian chili from Joy the Baker

Drop biscuits from America’s Test Kitchen

Vegetable stir fry with peanuts from Real Simple

Cotton + Steel Open Wide Pouch

I am completely enamored with this handwritten US states print by Alexia Abegg for Cotton + Steel. I bought the linen substrate version in navy and cream, and the coral version came through the Pink Castle Cotton + Steel Fat Quarter club. I think this print just screams to be made into travel items!

I am saving the navy and cream linen for a big, beautiful tote. Maybe the Super Tote by Noodlehead. The coral print had to be used immediately because I simply couldn’t resist. I sewed it into an Open Wide Pouch because that’s my go-to weekend project.


I used Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen as the base and a Parson Gray print for the lining.




Now I want to fill this up with goodies and take it on a road trip!