Sewing for Me: Pink Chalk Studio Mail Sack

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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.

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

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

Zip It

I have been too long away from my sewing machine. I work a lot of evenings and weekends, especially during the summer, and the rest of the time has been filled with summery activities. I do love spending time in the sun with family and friends, but I really wanted to get some time in at my sewing machine.

I needed something quick and easy to sew in just a few free hours. I searched through my downloaded pattern file and found this Zippy Pouch tutorial from Sew Mama Sew. It is simply, but it had some wonky patchwork in the design, which added interest.

I whipped up two of these pouches in an afternoon. Very satisfying quick sewing.

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This one was made from some leftover neutrals, a fat quarter that my husband bought for me, and some free fabric that I got accidentally when fabric.com messed up my order once. It was a “use up the extras” type of project, but I like the way the neutral prints play off one another.

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The tutorial calls for the zipper to be inserted in a very basic way. While this was easier to sew, it leaves this undesirable puckering at the end.

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For the second pouch, I added fabric tabs at the ends of the zippers to alleviate some of the puckering. This helps with the aesthetic appearance of the pouch and gives a cleaner finish. However, it shortens the length of the zipper, making the pouch less functional as you have less room in the opening. I wish I wasn’t so picky – but I just couldn’t live with a puckering zipper.

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This is the second finished pouch. Brighter colors! This one will be a gift for someone soon.

I’m going to make another one of these, but with slightly adjusted zipper tabs. I also plan to use that square block on the front as an opportunity to showcase some of the hundreds of hexies I basted during the cold winter months. This pouch pattern is so simple, but that front patchwork really does offer a neat opportunity to showcase something cool: embroidery, applique, a stamp or screenprint – lots of possiblities!

Divided Basket for a New Baby

Babies are teeny tiny mysteries. I don’t have one, and I never have, so I don’t fully understand what they’re all about. Lots of my friends and relatives are having babies, and as is customary, I give them baby-related gifts. My complete cluelessness about babies makes it challenging to identify an appropriate gifts for new parents and their babies. In my confusion, I usually just sew something and then add a book or two.

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Thank goodness for Anna Graham and her outstanding patterns. This is the second time I have made a divided basket as a baby shower gift, and it is such a versatile pattern. I was able to work completely from my stash (hurrah for frugality!) and fill up the basket with small but hopefully useful items for the new baby boy.

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The exterior fabric is an adorable Moda print featuring multicolored origami animals. It had a bunch of bright colors and a nice gray neutral, so it paired well with random items in my stash. I found the origami animal print while visiting Quiltwork Patches in Eugene, Oregon, and at the time I had no idea what I would do with it but I just had to have it. I am glad that I was able to put it to use – it is perfect for a baby gift.

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The basket is filled with some of my favorite board books, a small toy, and some extra onesies. I hear that babies are mighty messy. A change of clothes might come in handy.

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I used fusible fleece in addition to the recommended interfacing, as suggested in the pattern, and it made a sturdy basket that stands on its own. I wish I had done the fabric-covered handles because that would have helped bring it all together…but I was in a rush and wanted to get this sewn up and in the mail before the baby arrived. I hope the new baby (and his parents) like it!

 

Leather Bottom Pouch

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I am obsessed with sewing zippered pouches, especially this one: the open wide pouch by Anna Graham, the brilliant mind behind Noodlehead. I have made roughly 15 of these beauties and enjoyed every minute of sewing them.

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I love this pouch because the design is utterly practical. It opens wide (hence the name) and you can get at everything inside easily. This is perfect for me…the woman who throws everything into a bag willy nilly and then has to rummage around to find it later. My packing skills are truly atrocious.

The exterior fabric is from Pat Bravo’s Indie collection with Art Gallery Fabrics. I savor this print, and it’s hard for me to cut up the yardage from that collection, but this bag seemed worthy of the honor. The lining is a print from Anna Maria Horner’s versatile True Colors collection.

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I have been experimenting with sewing leather, and I decided to incorporate some into this bag. The bottom of the bag was cut from leather upholstery scraps generously given to me by my mother-in-law so that I could explore some of my sewing whims.

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I used a leather needle to sew all seams on the bottom portion of the bag. I also switched from my usual 100% cotton thread to a 100% polyester thread for the leather base. Cotton threads can be eaten away by the natural oils in leather, and I wanted this bag to last. Even though it added a few minutes to the process to re-thread the machine, I feel it is worth the extra time to have a durable product.