Archive of ‘tutorials’ category

10 Inventive Ways to use Zakka-Inspired Gift Bags {tutorial + giveaway}

Today I’m over at Skip to My Lou as part of the Bake Craft Sew & Crochet Along. I am sharing a wonderful zakka-inspired gift bag perfect for holiday gift giving. sewing giveawayIn fact, you won’t want to miss all the handmade gift ideas! I have joined over 100 bloggers to share some amazing homemade gift ideas…….and I get to be part of an amazing sewing giveaway too. More on the giveaway below.

Be sure to check it out. I was inspired to make these humble gift bags by a desire to give teachers money at the holidays. I always want to give teachers money (or gift cards) because they spend so much of their own on classroom supplies but it can feel odd and uncomfortable.  A sweet little gift bag adds just the right amount of handmade to the whole exchange.  It’s also a great way to give money to anyone in an extra special way…your broke Uncle or ramen-eating sister, anyone really! It is my favorite way to take the awkwardness out a gift of cold hard cash.

How-To Make Zakka Inspired Gift Bags

I find little gift bags so handy that I pulled together ten other inventive ways to use them:


How To :: Make an Easy Workout Headband

Oh, this blog is sooo on an August schedule these days! I’m writing blog posts in my head all the time but, so far, I haven’t figured out how to convince little elves to turn all of that internal chatter into an actual conversation here. Boo.

How To- Make an Easy Workout Headband

That must mean it’s time for a kick in the butt.  For this reason, I’m going to teach you how to make the easiest ever workout headband.

As you may have gleaned, I am a runner.  Nothing serious, no super long distances; I’m not keeping track of my personal best time or working toward anything at all, really.  I run a steady ten minute mile and I try to run three or four times a week even if sometimes I only run a mile.  It clears my head and it keeps my happy.  When I am out running it’s my time, just for me, and I think better when I run so I often solve family or work problems.  Maybe this blasé attitude officially makes me a ‘jogger’, who knows? I don’t care.

Anyway, I had been running with the same stank-y headbands when I decided I needed an upgrade.  But, workout headbands can get weirdly pricy.  I saw one for $15! Say what?!  And, the cheap ones sometimes fall off.  So, I grabbed some excess jersey knit and devised this easy headband-making method.


How to Make an Easy Drawstring Bag

make an easy drawstring bag

I was recently invited to become a “how-to” contributor over at Terry Fabrics.  They asked me what I wanted to make with their curtain weight fabric and I chose some of this great camper van fabric to make a drawstring bag.  See, I got these two boys and as lovely as they are, tidy isn’t their thing.  Their toys have taken over much of our home despite my best efforts to keep things tucked away and organized.

In my most recent attempt to organize and de-clutter I purchased fabric-lined baskets and sorted the toys into the baskets.  And still somehow, more toys wandered into the house and the baskets overflowed into a mess.  Argh!  My solution was to make a custom-fit drawstring bag to hold one particular toy set taking up lots of space.  Doesn’t that look nice?  Or, at the very least, better:

final basket bag

Here is how you can make a custom-fit drawstring bag for yourself:

First, measure the toys by placing piling them up on a cutting mat (commonly used for sewing) or with a tape measure.  Be sure to pile up the toys on top of each other because that is how they would sit in a bag.

measuring toys

Once you have approximate measurements you will add 1 inch to width and 8 inches to the height.  Using those measurements, cut two pieces of fabric.

Face the fabric with its right sides together (the pretty patterned sides facing each other) and sew a stitch along both long sides and one short side leaving only one short side open. If you want to, sew a zigzag stitch at the end of the fabric to prevent it from unravelling.

how to make a drawstring bag

The bag should look basically like a pouch at this point.  Keeping it inside out, fold the top of the bag down 3 inches.

how to make a drawstring bag

Using a measuring tool, mark lines at 1 inch down from the folded top and 2 inches down from the folded top all the way around.

Sew on these lines and sew a third line 3 inches down as well for a total of three lines.  Your third sewn line will be stitching next to the raw edge of the fabric.  It should look like this:

how to make a drawstring bag

You will notice that the stitches 1 inch and 2 inches down from the folded top have formed a tube, this will be the casing you use to insert the drawstrings.

In order to make this casing, turn your bag right-side out and use a seam ripper to remove the seams from both sides of the bag in the area between these two stitches.  If you want to, you can make a small zigzag stitch at the top and bottom of these seams to keep the area secure.

how to make a drawstring bag 4

You are ready to insert your drawstrings! Begin by measuring the full length around the top of the bag and add eight inches to your measurement.  Cut two ribbons or pieces of twill tape to the size of what you have measured.  Secure a safety pin on the end of one of the pieces.

Use the safety pin to insert the twill tape into the casing your created and work it along the whole length of the casing you created.

how to make a drawstring bag 5

Work your way, moving the safety pin with your fingers one full circle around.  Wherever you inserted the twill tape, it should also come back out.

how to make a drawstring bag 6

Repeat with the other twill tape. This will mean that you have one piece of twill tape going into and out of the left hand side opening and another piece of twill tape going into and out of the right-hand side opening.

how to make a drawstring bag 7

When you tug on these they will tighten and close the bag!

how to make a drawstring bag final

Enjoy your organized toys!  (For a little while, at least!)

last-minute gifts & well wishes

peace and joy in 2014From our family to yours, we wish you all the best in 2014!  It’s been an amazing year and we are prepped and ready for an incredible holiday season.  But, it wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful and amazing as it has been without all of you.  I love the connections, heartfelt and full, that have been made through this little blog and thank all of you so much for reading and cheering me on!

In that spirit, I’m sharing my favorite last-minute gifts! First up is this incredible infinity scarf tutorial from imagine gnats:

jersey infinity scarf


One of my students turned me on to this tute and I’m so glad. She managed to whip of 6 of them in one morning!  I made these two in a jiffy… they definitely came together easily.

Another favorite of mine is the small wallet.  This $3 pattern from Valori Wells makes a great wallet…an easy and cute way to give cash or a gift card without feeling awkward.  It’s my go-to teacher gift!

tiny wallets

Now, I really hope your gifting is done and you are nestling somewhere enjoying the quiet and ready to relax.  But, just in case, you are wondering what to make and eyeing your machine, I hope these tips come in handy.

I, for one, am about to polish off a bottle of red wine and kick some butt at a game of Scrabble before I play Santa! Happy Holidays all!! You are the best.



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