241 Tote

A few months ago, my friend Kelly asked me to make her wife Aivanett something for her birthday. She wanted an accessory of some kind, and after looking at some patterns, we settled on the 241 Tote from one of my favorite designers, Anna Graham of Noodlehead. I was really excited to make it; I’d had the pattern for a few months but had been too busy to make one, so this was a perfect excuse – and this pattern did not disappoint! Here’s how my version turned out:Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

Kelly picked the main fabric with the cute kitchen stuff (Mix Things Up from Robert Kaufman), and then I matched coordinating colors for the pockets. I took a chance on the red with white polka dots, as I was ordering online (from Hawthorne Threads, my very, very, very favorite online retailer), and I got really lucky that it looked great with the aqua. I had the gray (RJR Cotton Supreme in Gray Stone) in my stash already – it’s my preferred neutral, and I thought the bag needed a calmer color/pattern to balance out the two brighter fabrics. I lined the inside with some Letterpress by Michael Miller – yes, I still have this in my stash and yes, I will continue to use it on everything!

Inside of 241 Tote with letterpress by Michael Miller fabric

I opted to do just one front pocket on each side, as I didn’t want the zippers to overwhelm the pattern, and I lined each of those pockets with more polka dots:

Showing red and white polka dot fabric lining the pocket of a 241 Tote

I love those pockets – they’re just the right size for a phone or some keys, or even a small wallet, and having them on the outside saves you from having to dig around for small stuff. The only significant change I made was to extend the strap to make it crosswise rather than a shoulder strap, which I did by cutting two strap pieces rather than one; one in the gray fabric, which I then cut in half, and one in the aqua fabric. I then sewed a gray piece onto each end of the aqua and continued with the instructions as written, just with a strap twice as long.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

The external pieces are lined with fusible fleece, which I really liked – the bag came out fairly sturdy without being too bulky, and it made the shoulder strap pretty padded and (hopefully) more comfortable.

The pattern itself is, like all of Anna’s patterns, very clear and easy to follow, and the size was great for an every day bag. Each piece fit together perfectly, which can sometimes be a problem with patterns that have a lining, and I think it would be fairly easy for a beginner to follow. It took about a day and a half altogether from start to finish, which isn’t bad in my experience. I liked it enough that I’m still planning on making one for me, but I think I might enlarge it just a little, as I’m most often carrying a project to work on and might need a little more space.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

And now, a little shop news! If you haven’t visited in a while, I’ve got some pretty cute yarn bowls in there, along with a few other baskets:

Pink yarn bowl, rope basket

And, both the Kaleidoscope wall hanging

Kaleidescope rainbow quilted wall hanging using apple core EPP

and the Kisses wall hanging

Wall hanging quilt with lips on it, andy warhol inspired

are up for sale! There’s a bunch of other new stuff too, so head over to Etsy to check it out, and have a great Thursday!

Anthropologie Shirt Hack

A while ago, the Pop Tee was on sale at Anthropologie, and as I had been stalking it for quite a while, I was very excited. Unfortunately by the time I made it over to buy one, they were totally sold out. I was sad for about 5 minutes until I realized that this was an easy item to hack – all I needed was a t-shirt and some fabric. I dug out a white shirt that I wore maybe once (not a huge fan of white, I don’t know if you could tell!) and some leftover fabric with lemons all over it (much more my speed).

White t-shirt and lemon fabric

It came out like this:

DIY anthropologie knockoff shirt with lemon fabric and white t-shirt

Now, I did not use a tutorial on this one, and I should have. After the fact, I googled around and found this one from Domestic Bliss Squared that seems pretty spot on and thorough, and I wish I’d used it! I kind of just guessed on the amount of fabric I needed, and how to put in a pleat…which I then realized I put inside out. Whoops! I basically eyeballed where I wanted the fabric to start (just under the sleeves), cut the shirt along this line, and then unpicked the side seams. I put in that inside out pleat to make the fabric match the length of the back of the shirt, then just sewed it along the three sides with a zig zag stitch, and hemmed the bottom edge to match. I made a little pocket and whip stitched it into place on the front (not a functional pocket, obviously, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually used a chest pocket, so it didn’t bother me).
DIY anthropologie pop tee with white t shirt and lemon fabric

The back creeps over into the front a bit, but overall I’m pleased with how it turned out. The only problem is that I never want to wear a sweater over it, so I haven’t worn it since summer…but it will get quite a workout when warmer weather gets here!

DIY anthropologie knockoff shirt with lemon fabric and white t-shirt

Hexies!

I was commissioned to make a quilt recently of hexies in blues, grays, and yellows. I’ve never done hexies before, so I was really excited to try them, and I can now report that they are as addicting as everyone says! I’m about halfway done (I’m english paper piecing these bad boys) and these are just a few of the fabrics I’ve used:Image

I wanted a nice mixture of fabrics, and I’m pretty excited about how they’re all going to look together. So far, these three are my favorites:

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That octopus fabric is in serious running to be my favorite pattern ever, and when I have time I’m totally making a dress out of it.

I’ve been storing my hexies in a vase, but I’m rapidly outgrowing it…anybody have good suggestions for storage of these little guys?

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I think I’ve decided that I’m going to pattern them in groups of each color, like so:

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But chevrons have also been mentioned, and I think it might be interesting to put hexagons and chevrons in the same quilt…stay tuned!

Mini Ironing Board Tutorial

I’ve been doing a lot of paper piecing and scrappy blocks lately, which requires a lot of ironing. The way my sewing space is situated, there isn’t enough room to have the big ironing board next to my desk, so I have been having to get up and down to iron my blocks. This is okay when I’m doing just a little bit of piecing, but with paper piecing, that can mean getting up 12 or 15 times! My hip quickly let me know that this was not a situation that was going to last for long, so I started thinking of solutions, and what I ended up with is this:

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Originally I was going to make just a mat that could be rolled up and put away when not in use, but I really just don’t have the space on my sewing table, especially when I’m in the middle of something and there’s fabric flying everywhere. I do have set of drawers that I thought I could just set a covered board on, but my ever practical husband pointed out that it might be slightly too heavy and could be knocked over. So, I looked on all over the internet to see if I could find just a mini ironing board; exactly the same as our big one, but I wanted about 1/4 of the size. Everything was about $50 or more, and didn’t seem to exactly fit my needs. I just couldn’t talk myself into it. But, I remembered these TV trays that my grandparents had when I was a kid:

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And decided it was the perfect base for a folding mini ironing board that wouldn’t cost me tons. It sits right at my side, is very sturdy even on carpet, and cost about $20 to make. I put together a little tutorial, in case you’d like to make your own (it’s very easy, I swear!).

You will need:

-One wooden TV tray; I found mine at Target for about $9.

-A half yard of Insul-Bright, or similar heat reflecting fabric. It can be purchased by the yard at most large craft stores.

-A half yard of cotton fabric. I chose a light fabric and made sure that I pre washed; ironing can sometimes make colors bleed, so be wary of using something that might run. Cottons do well with the constant pressure of ironing – polyesters can sometimes smell a bit or shrink/warp. This isn’t to say that you couldn’t use poly, I’m just not sure how it would hold up.

-A half yard of batting. I used cotton, for the reasons above.

-Nail gun or nails and hammer. The nail gun is too hard for me to use on my own, so I also had a lovely assistant in the form of my husband :).

My TV tray came fully put together, which made it slightly more tricky to cover, so you could take yours apart if you wanted. I just moved the legs on mine back and forth.

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Lay the Insul-Brite on your working surface (I used our bed, as it’s the largest reachable surface in our house). Then lay the wooden tray top on top of it. You could be fancy and actually measure the top, then measure the batting, but I just marked a roughly 2 inch border around the tray top and cut it out. Make sure you’re laying it out with the shiny side down; you want the shiny side to be facing the iron when you’re using it.

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With the tray top in the middle of the Insul-Bright, bring one side of the fabric over the bottom of the tray:

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And staple or nail into place. Bring the opposite side over to the bottom of the tray top, making sure it’s pulled tight:

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Do the same on each end, making sure each corner is tucked and the Insul-Bright is pulled flat and tight:

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It will look like this when you’re done:

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You can trim the fabric closer to the staples at this point, if you’d like. Now, a note on the next part – I tacked down the batting and the fabric together. You could certainly to this in two separate steps, but it would require more nails and be more bulky. It’s really just about what’s easier for you.

Lay the fabric down first, right side down, then lay the batting on top of it, with the wooden table on top of that:

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Trim the batting (not the fabric!) so that it only overlaps the table by a little bit. I also trimmed the corners. I then folded the fabric that I was using before we stapled it, so that there wouldn’t be any raw edges. While this is certainly not necessary, it did make it look a bit more neat.

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Follow the same steps as with the Insul-Bright, stapling each side one at time, until all sides are tacked down:

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The most important part of this process is making sure that you have the fabric tight; this is where having a helper comes in handy! After everything is stapled down, you’re all done, and all that’s left it to enjoy your brand new mini ironing station!

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And when you’re not using it, it just folds up flat!

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Hope you find this fun and informative; as always, please let me know if you have any questions!

Couch Pillows

When we bought our new couch, it came with new pillows. Unfortunately, they were really ugly.

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Black is not my favorite, particularly when we have a blonde dog who gets hair everywhere :P. The covers were also made of something that felt like velvet, but wasn’t. Needless to say, they had to go.

I decided to use the blanket that I finished a few weeks ago as a base for the colors, especially since I had this skirt that no longer fit, but had a lining that was the perfect color.

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After I’d taken it apart, I had a piece of fabric that was the perfect color and size.

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The label says that the fabric something called acetate, which I don’t imagine is easy to wash, but the pillows are going to live on the couch and hopefully won’t need that much cleaning. For the front, I decided on a pretty eyelet fabric that I picked up at Goodwill ($6 for 6 yards!), backed by lavender fabric from an old sheet. You can’t really tell from the pictures, but the eyelet is a very light purple.

ImageThen I just pinned around the pillow and sewed around them. Not particularly sophisticated, but it worked!

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I was going to make both pillows in the eyelet, but after I finished the first one, I decided it was kind of fussy, and was actually going to scrap it altogether, but my husband really liked it. So, I decided to just do different fabric. I picked up a fat quarter of a purple Moda fabric; the measurements were exactly right for the pillow, and I used more of the same acetate lining for the back. Both pillows were finished by hand sewing the fourth edge. They won’t be removable, but I’m not super concerned with that at this point.

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The fabrics coordinate really well with both the new couch and the blanket I made.

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I think they compliment each other without making our living room look like an eggplant exploded, and the fabrics themselves look really good together.

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ImageIt was a really easy update, and only cost the $2 it took to buy the fat quarter; all in all I’m pretty thrilled with the results!