Another One in the Sweatshirt Line

After the recent success of the hoodie diaper bag designs, I wanted to return to the handbag designs.  AND, being married to a Univ. of Tennessee fan, I had to rid my house of this Univ. of Kentucky sweatshirt.  LOL!  And neither is the university that pays the bills every month! 

Anywho, this is a short handled hobo style bag made from a book of slouch purses.  It started its life as a youth hoodie.  I removed the kangaroo pocket from the front of the sweatshirt and reattached it to the inside, using it as a pocket. I stitched it so that it could be used as 3-sectioned pocket.  I reattached the label and fabric care tags inside the top edge of the pocket.  There is just something about having the care instructions with it that appeals to me. 

The plan is to put it up on my Etsy and send it far away from my home.  That’s not to say that more UK stuff will come into the house.  I’ve been getting orders from several states for the hoodie diaper bags and they are a variety of schools and colors.

Tootsie Roll Pop Anyone?

I have become a big fan of wristlets after being a total shoulder bag kind of gal for many years. But I’m a real snob about my wristlets. They must be the “perfect” size and shape and must be constructed for use, not fashion and must have a loop large enough for my ample wrist. Definitely not an arm candy gal. Function over fashion. My first wristlet was a successful project and has endured many moons of wear and tear. I’ve added bling to it since the blogpost as well as laundered it a few times. Now, I’m ready to branch out.

Recently, small reader glasses have been added to my list of daily necessities, along with medication and keys and cell phone and debit card. They do not fit into the other wristlet. I squished many a pair in there and broke them. Granted, they are only a couple bucks each but that is a couple bucks too much to lose and some of them made quite a fashion statement.

Then, my mother showed me the most recent issue of my favorite mag, Quilts and More with this featured wristlet. I couldn’t wait. I ripped the pattern insert out of my mother’s magazine and grabbed up this striped canvas that called to me from the remnant bin at Hobby Lobby last week. And here you have it! What do you think?

Another habit I have is buying kitschy keychains and cheap jewelry at dollar stores everywhere. And the colors in this bag screamed for this Tootsie Roll Pop keychain. Because you know, zipper tabs are always very tiny and hard to grab when standing at a checkout digging for the money or debit card. Now, every time I carry this bag, all I can think about is the age-old question: “How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”

Notes on a Gunny Sack

Recycled coffee bag

This is a project that has rolled around in my mind for quite a while.  I’m as supportive of recycling as the next person.  But I love how the young people think it is something they thought of.  I grew up during the Energy Crisis of the 70’s and I remember when all of the public facility light switches had a fluorescent orange sticker on them saying to turn off the lights when the room is not in use. I am also a reformed plasti-holic.  I have actively returned to using glasses and fabric towels and real plates instead of the paper versions that kill trees.  But I love bags and I grew up on a farm with gunny sacks and my husband has recently discovered coffee so I found a certain appeal in the purses and bags on websites that are recycled from a burlap coffee sack.

Surprisingly, on a fall Rural King visit, I found a large pallet of used burlap bags.  One look revealed a multitude of coffee houses and roasters from exotic European countries as well as the South American continent.  I couldn’t help it.  I grabbed up 2.  One was a standard dark brown burlap with green and black stenciled markings  from the Rain Forest.  Another visit to another regional Rural King yielded another bag.  This could become a habit! The price was right.  When the cashier could find them in the register (they were listed as gunny sacks and she couldn’t spell that,) they rang up at 99 cents.On particular one enticed me.  You see a portion of it in the photo.  it was an especially light colored burlap, coarsely woven with 3 pink and green stripes woven in.

A visit to a local quilt shop produced another bargain that just screamed to be paired with this particular bag.  The fabric was adorable, something from the Fiesta dinnerware days.  It was in a particularly familiar pink and dark seafoam green and there were Mexican motifs all over it.  There was a quaint Mexican couple in sombreros with their donkey and cactus and pottery scattered over it.  It was perfect!

So, on MLK, I could ignore the voices in my head no longer and grabbed up the colorful gunny, a favorite bag pattern and the lining fabric as well as some piping in the corresponding pink and green.  A bag materialized from my efforts but let me say, many a lesson was learned in fabrication AND patience.

This I learned:

  • use a finely-woven burlap bag……coarse burlap is too open weave to use with a backing of white canvas.
  • wear a mask when cutting and sewing….these fibers fly everywhere when cut or stitched, so always wear a mask to keep the guck out of your lungs. (Beware, it goes everywhere.)
  • choose a flexible bag……when the burlap bag did not want to fold up and go in the bag at the cash register, I should have seen that as a warning sign.
  • use a very unstructured pattern ….this fiber does not lend itself to pressing seams open and turning shoulder strap.  I spend an hour trying to get the fiber to flex enough to turn the strap.  There were cuss words.

So here it is.  I’m not so sure that I’ve done Juan Valdez justice.  But I had to answer its call instead of working on e-book readers that I had cut wrong and growing list of projects.

Re-cycle or Up-cycle My Favorite Jeans

Working in a library has its perks. I can borrow many sewing books through Interlibrary Loan. Select projects I want to make and then send the books back. This bag came from one such book. It was originally called a Bird Watcher’s Bag. I don’t know why other than the fact the fabric had birds on it. Nevertheless, I thought it screamed to be made out of denim, specifically an old pair of jeans that I am too stubborn to part with. I mean how many jean quilts can a person really use?

I fussy cut this so that the back pocket remained intact and came out properly positioned on the front flap. A surviving belt loop at the top even works as a loop for my key ring carabiner. Another wonderful fabulous benefit is that it fits my purse organizer insert perfectly. I need to put some pics of those up. Its probably my most favorite thing next to Krispy Kreme donuts. I really must make more of those.

A pair of jeans and a yard of cotton fabric makes this purse up very nicely.

Glee, volume 2

In keeping with the Mildred Pierce quilt from a previous post, I had leftover blocks when Glee was completed. Leftover blocks and a new purse pattern plus a pressing need for a new purse caused me to create this. I added a black batik I picked up at Backyard Fabrics, a quilt store that I love but frequently forget. The basic design was my own. I kind of made it up as I went. I wanted this basic shape with a zipper and a long shoulder strap. The results suited me better this time than with Mildred. A friend carries Mildred Jr. now. I’m planning to carry this one and at least this way, Glee will never be far from me.

My purse is so bright, I gotta wear shades!

Wristlet Tutorial

I follow way too many blogs but I find lots of fabulous little nuggets. My favorite things to find are tutorials and/or patterns that amateur designers post on the web. Some are good, some not so good. Here is one that I really enjoyed .

Skip to My Lou blog
posted a tutorial for a pleated pouch. I thought it was the perfect thing that I had been trying to find. It is just big enough for my iPhone, card case and keys. I made one. Then I made another. I gave them away and someone promptly asked for her own. So I made two more – one for her and one for me now that I had decided what I wanted mine to be. The one pictured is mine, made out of a pair of my jeans that were ripped beyond repair. The pin was found in a box of my daughter’s knickknacks.

The tutorial was very easy. The pictures were clear and accurate and the pattern pieces were easy to print and put together. If I made any comment on the entire experience, it would be to say that when printed the pictures did not align with the instructions.

Quilter’s cotton will do for some but I definitely prefer a light denim or upholstery fabric for sturdiness and durability.

Rural King……..yes, again.

In some previous postings, I remarked that I found some treasures for sewing projects at the Rural King, a regional chain of farm stores. Vacation week would not have been complete without a visit to our favorite store and it yielded yet again some creative ideas.
It appears that Rural King is celebrating a 50th anniversary and commerative shirts were available. I search every time thinking that THIS time, they will stock something in my 4X wide-load size, but I always wind up sadly disappointed. I want to celebrate my favorite store’s anniversary, too! Then an idea struck.

I’ve made several t-shirt quilts and many of you remember the hoodie diaper bag that I made recently. So why not a Rural King bag? The whole plan came together at a quilt show fabric sale when this fun green print with sunflowers and holstein cows fell out of the pile. I even purchased a sunflower iron-on applique for effect.

Fire and Ice

I find that I sew best when there is a movie on. Being a huge movie buff, I’m addicted to the two hour glimpses into other worlds and other lives. I prefer to sit in front of the TV in the evening and cut out the pieces. Then when I start construction, I like to be at home with a TV in the front of the house and a TV in the back of the house synchronized to the same movie channel while I move about from cutting table to sewing machine to ironing board. I did not realize until this bag that certain projects bring to mind the movie that I was watching at the time.

I was cutting out this bag last night while watching The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice. I think this wonderful Indonesian Batik from Batiks by Design could go along with that fire and ice theme. It has deep red for fire as well as navy blue which could be thought of as an frigidly cold dark color. Also, there are parts of the design than could be similar to fire “licks”. The movie that was on while I sewed was The Flight of the Phoenix, the original best version. Elements of the motifs made me think of the ancient Phoenix as it rises from the ashes (fire again). So there you have it.

The pattern is nothing special…..something from a commercial pattern manufacturer, but a shape that I wanted to try, none the less.

On a Roll Now with Another Bag


Making bags, for me, is like eating potato chips for most people. You can’t stop at just one. And this week has been not different. After the hoodie project was finished and blogged, I couldn’t stop. Next came the recycled jean bag that can be called nothing but “Hot Lips”.

Jeans are the main staple of my wardrobe and it truly hurts me when I must give up a pair as unsuitable for wear in public. So, remembering fondly the jean purses my mother made me in the 70’s, I recycled my latest cast-off pair of denims. There was not pattern, simply an idea of size and the best use of the pockets on the jeans. I couldn’t resist the lining fabric with the pink, purple and orange lips. It was a piece that I picked up on a fabric shopping trip with no plans in mind. The shoulder strap is the inseam of the jeans, backed with lining fabric.

I love Ed Hardy designs and hearts and wings and could not resist sticking this little heart “tattoo” on the front.

Brilliant idea!


At long last, the dark days of winter are over. I worked so much with my hands for the holidays that I had to take a break for a while, but I am now back and have tons of ideas and supplies. Even though I was not crafting, I was still shopping and creating in my head. Here is the first of what I hope are a flurry of new items.

In my continuing effort to perfect my own purse/totebag/accessory patterns, I have been working on some sweatshirt purse patterns. Being larger than a 2X, I always struggle with wanting the t-shirts and sweatshirts that market our life interests and accomplishments but know that they are never available in my size. I long to support breast cancer, my favorite music group, my latest tourist stop or festival event but the shirts never are large enough. But I buy them none the less in smaller quantities than if I could wear them. I hope some day to be able to wear them or use them in some way. And I finally came up with a way!

I’ve developed a sweatshirt purse. I have not displayed those prototypes here due to their need of tweaks, but this one I could not pass up sharing. A very dear couple were expecting a baby and she works at the same institution as myself as the Athletic Director’s Administrative Assistant. So what better way to use the sweatshirts that I crave AND make her a serviceable gift than to make a sweatshirt diaper bag! After a week of deliberation, sketching and thinking then 2 weeks of careful cutting and construction, I finally completed it. And it is absolutely wonderful!

The sweatshirt came from the local Walgreen’s, making it reasonably priced (should the project end up on the sewing room floor) and the lining fabric from Hancock’s. But the rest is all me.

Notice the extra design elements:

  • the sleeve embroidered logo displayed on the base of the strap
  • the use of the chest embroidered logo on the front flap
  • the use of a sleeve cuff on the bottle pocket
  • the use of the hood (embroidered with the team name) and accompanying drawstring as the front pocket
  • the use of the kangaroo pocket on the back

This was incredibly fun and I hope to develop this idea more and some day market my patterns.

P.S. I love, love, love Picnik and the ability to edit and collage photos on the web.

What do you think? All comments are welcome.