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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Eyelet Plier Hack

I insert a lot of eyelets and grommets into my project using the Dritz Eyelet Plier Kit. And every. single. time, I have to get out the directions. At first, I copied the back of the package and laminated it. I put that into my little "grommet/eyelet" basket were I kept them. Even so, I'd read and re-read out of fear that I'd do it incorrectly.

The other day I was adding some eyelets to a hanging shoe organizer that I cut up so it would fit going down my stairs. And it finally hit me: write on the pliers (Deep Half goes on the Right Side - Shallow Half goes on the Wrong Side).

BTW, I love my label-maker, too.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Free Back-To-School Patterns

Looking for some quick projects to start the school year?

Here are some of my free patterns that are perfect for the student in your life!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Transit Tote PDF Sewing Pattern

I've been working on this Transit Tote pattern for over a week! My brain is fried!

I ended up making six of these. When designing a pattern the first step is to focus on the big problems (measuring and design flaws). Then each subsequent one allowed me to fine-tune and focus on the minor problems (like technique and removing bulk). During this time, I post pictures on a private/secret FB group and get feedback.

Here's the front. I included a tutorial for adding two zippers rather than one long one. I used a version of my Inside-Out Zipper technique so you don't really "birth" the bag - and you don't have raw edges anywhere!

The mesh pockets are made with the mesh from a laundry bag!

The final size is 6 1/2" x 9 1/2" x 6" (tall).

The pattern includes this little Jewelry Valet. It unsnaps and folds flat so it will fit in your luggage. 

It's 4 3/4" x 4 3/4".
You'll also get the pattern for this little zippered mesh bag. It's 4" x 8".


The project looks more complicated than it really is. It took me about 3 hours to make the last one (and that includes jotting down pattern changes and new ideas). The technique that I created is unconventional, so read through the entire pattern before starting! Have fun!

Purchase in my Craftsy Shop 
Purchase in my Etsy Shop

And here are some behind-the-scenes from my "photo shoot" this morning.

My sewing room - getting ready. I think it's a lot like me...looks better in person. Really, it looks messier than it actually seems!


My photo studio. This is my screened-in porch. Those are "cat" shelves that my cats ignore. They prefer the carpet-covered kitty condo that's been moved to another part of my house.

I taped up white paper to make the background neutral.

Here's my design assistant. It was a bit chilly, so I donned my Mansfield University sweatpants and my ...uhm...25 year-old Penn State sweatshirt and headed out with my high-tech Canon camera. Really, it's not high-tech. It's a point-and-shoot that fits in my pocket. 

So nothing fancy here. I really love this tote which made doing this a lot of fun. But I had trouble stopping - I couldn't stop with the Transit Tote...I had to make the mesh bag...and the jewelry valet. Why? I head back to work next week (I teach college) and once classes start, I'm down for the count! 

I hope you enjoy sewing this tote! Happy travels!

Bernina Feet Storage

Last week, Bernina posted a picture on their FB page of an organized accessory box. I shared this picture and got some positive responses -- so I thought I'd write about it.

I keep most of the feet for my Bernina 240 in a plastic case with dividers (just like this one) stowed away in a drawer. I don't use the plastic accessory box that came with it. But there are several feet that I use a lot; those feet were taking up space in the area next to my machine (and I kept knocking them off).

My solution was to remove the foot "shelf" from the accessory box and stick it to the underside of my Horn Cabinet. I used the 3M Picture Hanging Strips (like velcro). BTW, I think that there are coupons on their website!

Now I have easy-access to my feet!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Making a Pleated Mesh Pocket

Yesterday I wrote about mesh pockets, so here's how you can make a pleated mesh pocket. These are great for bigger items. This is the side panel/gusset piece for a big tote bag that I use when I'm traveling.

You'll need mesh. I use laundry bags and hampers. And you'll need binding. I make my own - here's my tutorial.

1. Measure your pocket. I made mine 2" wider and about 4" shorter (2" top and 2" bottom) than the side panel. Cut your mesh.

2. The pocket top binding is the width that I cut (2" wider) BUT the bottom is the width of the side panel/gusset.

3. Add the binding to the top of the pocket. Here's some help.

4. Open the bottom binding and mark the middle. Ignore the other marks here-I was experimenting!

5. Next, using this as a guide, sew the binding to the mesh BUT stop at the middle mark.

6. Remove from your machine.

7. Line other (unsewn) end of the mesh up with the the other end of the binding. You'll have excess fabric in the middle.

8. Move the extra fabric so it's out of the way and, starting at the middle point, sew the remainder binding to the mesh. DON'T sew the pleat yet!

9. Remove from your machine.

10. Press pleat flat as shown.


11. Sew pleat in place. It will look like this.

Notice that the pocket bottom is narrower than the top.

12. Flip binding to right side.  Attach mesh pocket to your project by sewing it along the TOP and the BOTTOM of the binding.

How will you use mesh pockets!?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Making Mesh Pockets

I've become a big fan of mesh pockets in my totes and purses. I like them because I can see the contents of the pocket; oh, and they are really easy to make!

All you need is some mesh. I checked out JoAnn Fabrics and found some tulle. I don't particularly care for it, so I've stuck with my go-to: laundry bags! I purchased pop-up hampers from Big Lots and recently discovered these from Target. I like the ones from Target because they are big (36" x 24"), so they work perfectly for my bigger sewing projects.


Here's what you need to do:

1. Cut your pocket to the correct size. My pocket sides and bottom are sewn into the seams, so think about that. You might have to put the binding all the way around.

2. Cut and make binding. I have a tutorial if you've never made it. I prefer my method because one side is wider than the other. This should be the length of your pocket (or whatever won't be sewn into the seams).

3. Place the narrow side of the binding on top of the mesh as shown. Line up along the edges. This will be the back of the pocket.

4. Sew in the fold. I use a walking foot - it feeds more evenly.

I don't pin. I just go slowly, making sure that the edges stay lined up.

If you need to, sew binding where it's needed. This pocket is on the inside of a big tote (it's part of the side panel/gusset). You'll see the binding at the bottom of the pocket. I didn't want a pocket that was too deep. I made this pocket about 2" wider than the side panel and created a pleat in the bottom. UPDATE: Here's how to create a Pleated Mesh Pocket.

5. Flip over and wrap binding over to the other side (this will be the front.)

6. Sew the binding to the mesh as shown. 

7.  Attach the pocket. Sew dividers as desired!

You could make this zippered if you wanted!

Here it is!

You can purchase the pattern for this purse insert on Craftsy and Etsy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Java Jacket: Free Pattern

I'm more of a make-your-coffee-at-home kind'a gal, but I have friends who swear by coffee shop coffee. So this one is for all of you...


2 -- 6” x 13” fabric (front/back)
1 -- 6” x 13” fusible fleece
1 -- 3½” piece hook and loop tape

Get PATTERN here. (Don't "fit" it when you print - either print Actual Size or Scale 100%). Cut pattern out. You might want to transfer the markings to cardboard - it's easier to trace. 

Here we go...

1. Fuse fusible fleece to back of front piece  (following manufacturer's directions).


2. Using pattern, cut out front and back pieces.

3.  With RST, line up along bottom (shorter edge). Using a 1/4" seam, sew together.


4. Line up other side (creating a tube). Using a 1/4" seam, sew together.

5. At one shorter end, flatten fabric as shown. Try to keep it evenly distributed.

6. Using a 1/4" seam, sew this closed.

7. Repeat for the other side..EXCEPT... leave a 2" opening.


8. Turn right side out and press flat.


9. At opening, tuck in the excess fabric and press flat.


10. Sew around the perimeter of the Java Jacket, staying close to the edge. You will sew the opening closed.

Here it is!

11. Sew one side of hook and loop tape to the back. Keep it close to the end!

12. Flip it to the front. Sew other piece of hook and loop tape to the front. Note the placement! It's about 1" from the end at the top and about 1/2" at the bottom.

If you are unsure about the circumference of the cup, wrap the Java Jacket around the cup and, using a fabric marker, draw a line at the end. 

Does your favorite coffee drinker use a loyalty card? Why not add a pocket!?

Jazz it up with a machine embroidery designs. Just head to Embroideries and search "COFFEE" - some are free, most are really inexpensive.

And here's a free pattern for an easy-to-make round zippered pouch. No, you don't have to cut circles!!
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