Monday, September 1, 2014

Tutorial - Foldable Tote Bag with Matching Sleeve

There has been a lot of "going green" happening at my house these days. One of the things we are doing is refusing to use plastic bags. I keep reusable totes in all our cars so they are ready when shopping. I also came up with this simple and super quick to make pattern for this tote bag. It folds up easily, and you can slip into the little matching 6 1/2 inch sleeve. When they fold up this small, you can stash them all over! Makes great gifts too. The tote bag measures 17 x 17 inches (not including handles) when open. 

5/8 yard of lightweight 100% cotton fabric (44/45")
     Novelty fabrics or quilters cottons are perfect weights
Thread to match fabric
Cutting and measuring tools
Marking pens
Pins, needles
Sewing machine

1.  Using the illustration for the fabric layout below, cut out the fabric as follows:
(1) 4x44" strips (then cut in half so you will have (2) 4x22" strips
(2) 18x18" pieces
(1) 5x17" piece

2.  Place the two 18 inch squares together with right sides together. If you are using directional fabric, be sure the design of the fabric is going in the proper direction. You'd hate for your design to be upside down or sideways on one or both sides. At the bottom corners, cut out a 2 inch square at each corner. This is so that you can box the corners later. Stitch down both sides and across the bottom edge using a 1/2" seam allowance. Just do the straight edges, leave the cut out corners un-stitched. Press the three seams open.

3.  Box your bottom corners by lining up the two raw edges (at the cut outs) and stitching them closed, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. To make the edge a little stronger add another row of stitching next to this one. Just make sure the second row of stitching is on the side of the seam allowance.

4.  Turn the bag right side out. Turn the upper edge 1 1/4 inch toward the inside of the bag and press. Turn that raw edge 1/4 inch toward the inside and press. You are making a 1 inch hem at the upper edge. Stitch close to that folded edge, then top-stitch about 1/8 inch away from the upper edge of the bag.

5.  Take the two 4x22 inch strips and turn the short ends 1/4 inch to the wrong side and iron. Next fold them in half lengthwise and press. Take the long, raw edges and fold them toward the inside so that they meet at the center and press. These will be your 1 inch wide handles. Stitch close to the folded edges along the length on both sides beginning with the side where the two folded edges meet.

6.  Place your bag on the table and pin the handles 4 inches from each seam, keeping the ends of the handles on that folded hem. Stitch the handles to the bag, keeping your stitches on that hemmed area where the fabric will be stronger. I stitched a square with an "x" in the center to make it nice and secure. Once both of your handles are stitched to the bag, set it to the side and make your sleeve.

7.  Take the remaining 5x17 inch fabric and fold it in half with right sides together, meeting at the short edges. Stitch up each long edge 1/2 inch seam allowance. We are going to box the bottom corners a little differently than we did on the bag. Since this is a small piece, there is an easier way to do it. Just take the corners and pinch them so that the side seam meets up with the bottom fold. Mark a straight line at an angle about an inch long. Stitch on that line, then cut away the corners. Turn right side out.

8.  Turn the unfinished upper edge 3/4 inch to the inside, then another 3/4 inch. This will make the hem along the upper edge of your sleeve. Stitch close to the folded edge at the inside of the sleeve, then top-titch 1/8 inch from the upper edge of the sleeve.

Since I used directional fabric for my cat bag, I didn't want my cats to be upside down on the other side of the sleeve, so I cut the fabric in half and stitched at the bottom using a small 1/4 inch seam allowance. This small change in finished size made absolutely no difference for the bag fitting in the sleeve.

To fold the bag so that it fits nicely in the sleeve, first fold the bottom edge up so that the bag lays nice and flat. Fold the left side over so the fold is at the 1/3 point of the bag. Now fold the right side over so the outer edge meets the fold at the other side. Bring the handles down and flatten. Starting at the upper edge, fold the bag down so that it fits nicely in the sleeve you just made for it.

Three of the fabrics in the samples were purchased from these great Etsy shops:
Tea fabric and cat fabric from:
Cups fabric:

NOTE: If you prefer to keep a copy of this pattern on your computer, you can download it from my Crafsty shop for free where you'll find it in PDF format.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Many of You Remember the Old Days?

What an exciting age we live in! Back when I was a stay at home mom and I needed some inspiration or wanted to make some gifts or holiday decorations, I loaded up the kids and headed to the library. I would easily spend a whole morning there looking through books and magazines. I'd make copies of patterns and check out loads of books. I would do the same thing for recipes, nature photography, and decorating. I even went as far as bribing picking up the kids a Happy Meal on the way home since they were really good.

At the present time I've been posting quite a few tutorials on my Facebook page, as well as my Pinterst boards. Many of these, I actually plan to make. Some sooner than others. There are some brilliant and creative people out there and I thank them all for sharing these fun projects and ideas with us.

I also remember my old designing days. Back in 1993 when I had my first pattern published, I had to type it up on a typewriter, then ran to the library to make myself a copy before mailing it in a self addressed, stamped envelope. But not before I had to buy film, load it in my camera, take photos, hope they were great, and take them for developing. In the earlier days, they didn't even have 1 hour developing. Today, all my publishers accept emails and digital photos.
We are so lucky to live in an age where there are tutorials (free and to purchase) at our fingertips! Oh boy! I'm going to be busy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Project 365 - Week 34

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 232 - Look what arrived in my mail today! I've never used this before but looking forward to playing.

Day 233 - One of the best things about living in the Midwest is freshly picked produce from the local farmers. This corn was delicious!

Day 234 - Just added this candle jar tutorial on the blog! You can find it here.

Day 235 - Like my aura? Actually I went outside to photograph a tree that is turning red way too soon and all I got were foggy pictures. For fun I pointed my camera down at my foot and a fog was surrounding my leg!

Day 236 - One of the pictures I always keep on phone so that I'm sure to get the right bulbs when I need them. I use my tart burners everyday. You can read about this handy tip here.

Day 237 - Love this old fashioned twine holder! My daughter bought it for me a couple years ago as a gift. The scissors (shown at bottom of pic) slip inside the spindle on the holder for safe keeping.

Day 238 - I picked up some hours at the clinic on Tuesday. People are taking vacations so I'm helping out here and there. This kitten was there for routine surgery. What a cutie! We all had fun playing with her.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Way to Use Your Cellphone

I'm sharing a handy trick that I have used for years, even before I had a smartphone. Whenever I would go shopping I always want to make sure that I'm getting the right size or style of what I need. Take for example the bulbs in the photo, they are used in my two tart warmers that I have in my house. Last time I went shopping for one, there were so many to choose from that I ended up not buying one because I wasn't sure which one I needed. When I got home I placed a towel on the counter (so the bulbs wouldn't roll off), then added a tape measure and placed my bulbs next to it. I also jotted down the wattage because it was close to impossible to read from the bulbs. I had to use a magnifying glass. I then took a picture, as you can see, and I keep it stored on my cellphone. I even went one step further and added it to my Evernote files so if my phone were to die and I lost my photos, I'd still have access to that picture. You can also use your online photo albums, google drive, your cloud backup, there are hundreds of options.

Even if you don't have a smartphone, as long as your phone has a camera, you can use this little trick. If you carry a camera in your purse, you can do this too, just don't delete these pictures.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Turotial - Baby Food Jar Candles for Halloween

Hand painted glassware is all the rage right now. I've come up with this super simple, quick, easy and cute craft. I'm so blessed to have a grand baby in my life so I use baby food jars. If you don't know anyone with a baby, any small jars will do. You can even purchase small, plain, votive candle cups very inexpensively at your local craft, sewing, or superstores. They make great gifts for family, friends, teachers, hostesses, or yourself as well!

Baby food jars, plain candle cups, or any small jar
ENAMEL paints, usually sold by the acrylic paints
~white, black, orange, yellow, green
Ribbon, twine, or raffia for the rim
Paint brushes
Palette, plastic lid, or paper plate
A couple (soft) paper napkins
Cookie sheet to hold jars while baking
Tea light candles or votive candles

Always start with a squeaky clean glass and keep it that way. Before you begin painting an area, be sure to wipe it down with alcohol and if you accidentally touch that area during painting, wipe that spot again with the alcohol. The oils from your hands can actually prevent your paint from permanently sticking to the glass. Sometimes it's easiest to hold the glass with your hands or fingers on the inside. At some places you may find that you want to add a second coat. It’s also very important to allow paint to completely dry between coats and color changes. Be sure to wash and dry your brushes thoroughly after each color or between coats.

Note: If you are recycling a glass food jar, if you soak the jar in hot soapy water, the label should peel right off. If you find that glue is left behind, the best thing to use is GooGone which can be purchased about anywhere. If you don't have any, or don't want to buy any, you can use a paste made up of cooking oil, baking soda, and salt. The GooGone is just so much easier and quicker.

1.  Now that your jar is squeaky clean and free from fingerprints, you can paint your first coat using the enamel paint. I find that it's best to place and hold the jar from the inside with my non painting hand. This way fingers stay off the glass. Paint first coat as follows:

Pumpkin - orange
Ghost - white
Monster - green
Candy Corn - I painted the bottom and top first, then the middle stripe after the others dried.

Hint #1 - If you want perfect lines on the candy corn jar, you can use painters tape. As you can see in the photos, I started out using it, but I found it difficult to use so I tossed it.

Hint #2 - If you aren't happy with your painting at any point in the painting process, just wash the jar and the paint will come right off, then start all over again. Once the jars are cured or baked, this will not work.

2.  After the first coat is dry you can paint the details, which are very simple if using the faces that I chose. If you want to add a second coat to the first coat you can do that, but I chose not to because I like to see more of the candle glow.

If you don't like my faces, search the Internet and find some you like. The ones I chose are so simple and I'm not the best painter, so I like simple details. It's just very important to let the coats completely dry before painting too close or on other colors.

3.  Once the glasses are completely dry, you will have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for on the bottle of the paint brand you are using for finishing. For example, for the brand of paint I used, I was to allow my paint to dry for 48 hours. After that, I set them in a cool oven, I set the temperature to 325 degrees, bake 30 minutes, turn oven off, let them cool down in the oven before removing.

4.  After they have cooled off, you can add your ribbon, raffia, or twine to the rim. Pop in a candle and enjoy!

After they are baked, they can be washed. The bottle of paint I used said they are top shelf dishwasher safe, but I would still wash by hand.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Project 365 - Week 33

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 225 - Babysat baby Paige. She has so much fun with her dog! They just adore each other.

Day 226 - Found these in one of my storage boxes. Notice the prices! One had a copyright date of 1966 on the back.

Day 227 - It has been a bad year for flies. They are bad everywhere. Glad these are on the outside!

Day 228 - Doing a little Halloween and Christmas in the studio this week.

Day 229 - Working on a tutorial which will be ready soon.

Day 230 - Baby Paige's mommy took this picture. She's now ten months old!

Day 231 - Christmas time at Hobby Lobby.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sher's Blog Tutorials - Find Them Easily Now!

A few days ago I was looking through my tutorials and dawned on me that it was taking forever to find the ones that I was looking for without going through my search. This has got to be difficult for my readers, especially if they they just want to browse through them to see what all I have. So I fixed the problem!

You can now find all my tutorials at a glance! I put them all on a tutorial board on my Pinterest account. From now on, you can see all my tutorials by clicking the "Tutorials" tab at the top of my blog, or you can save the page in your favorites for later.

Next, I'm going to work on the recipes. I'm going to be busy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Magazine Subscriptions that will Trick You

I have to tell you, these magazine companies are getting so greedy the past several years. When they send you a subscription notice, you really need to investigate. At our house, we get a lot of magazine subscriptions. We get everything from cooking, to woodworking, to crafts, and general reading material. Above is one example. I've blocked out the name because we really like the magazine, and it really doesn't matter, because many of them are doing it.

Notice where it says "Subject to Expiration." At first glance it makes you think that is when your magazine expires. But no, it's when this special deal expires. About an inch below in much smaller print, you'll find the code to the actual expiration date of the magazine subscription. Just think if it were one that didn't post the expiration date. And what is with the free gift subscription? It confused me right off the bat! So tricky in so many ways, especially when people today are so busy and constantly multitasking, they don't always read every line. And doesn't "Customer Notice" make it sound like something you need to know? We have some magazines that send us renewal notices several times a year.

Another trick some of the use is they don't put the expiration date on your issue. This can be confusing. I'm on to them now! I keep a file in my Evernote notebooks (you can use a spreadsheet, word document, or anything you like) so I can keep track of all my payments that I make to renew. I note if it's a digital issue or a paper issue, the payment method, the date I paid it, how many issues, and the new expiration date. When you get as many as we do, that's the only way to keep track.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Project 365 - Week 32

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 218 - Saw these beautiful flowers in a neighbor's yard. The white flowers are about six inches across, maybe bigger. I have no idea what they are called because I'm a horrible gardener.

Day 219 - I saw this guy on our walk today. We have so many deer where we live. 

Day 220 - Stopped by the hospital for routine blood work. I was starving because I had to fast.

Day 221 - Bought some more reusable grocery bags so I can help make a little dent in helping the environment. Going to pick up some more today while I'm out.

Day 222 - I'm sure that all my blogging buddies recognize this precious face by now. Yes, it's baby Paige! Can you believe she's going to be a year old in two months?

Day 223 - The carpets got cleaned today and the dining room chairs were on the table so of course Punkie had to investigate!

Day 224 - A new project in the works! This one will be a gift.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, August 11, 2014

Recycling - Doing My Part

I was listening to my favorite talk radio station (WGN-Chicago) several days back and they were talking about plastic grocery bags. They are trying to pass something (or maybe they already did) so that within the next couple of years, they will be done away with. I thought it sounded like a great idea! They do so much more harm to the environment, as well as the wildlife than people can even imagine.

So, I've decided that every grocery shopping trip I'm going to pick up a few reusable ones and use those from now on. If I would have known that they were only 50 cents, I would have bought more last time. I also have a bunch of fabric tote bags I can use. I'm planning on keeping several in all my vehicles, and in the house.

Gotta run, heading to the doctor, then running errands. Gotta grab my bags!
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