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Lined mini duffel bag tutorial June 17, 2012

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects, Tutorials.
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We are planning on hitting the pool rather often this summer. To prepare, I made a giant pool bag for myself. Alas, it was too narrow at the bottom, so fitting swimming gear and towels for myself and three babes in it was a challenge. So, I decided to make each of the babes their own mini duffel bag that would contain their swim robe and clothing. I wanted it to be lined so that they could dump their wet suits in there without having them leak all over the truck. I took pictures along the way to share a little tute with you all. It’s a pretty simple project. I used velcro instead of a zipper, which made it quicker to sew.

This is a very mini duffel. The finished width is about 17 inches. It’s just big enough to fit their robes, clothing and shoes, and then it’s stuffed full. But really, the oldest is 5, so they don’t need a giant bag just yet!

Please excuse the low quality photos.  My sewing room lighting isn’t great for photography, and my camera is junkola!  Also, the pics are from two different bags as I made two at the same time.  

What you need:
Outer fabric – choose whatever you or your little one would like
Lining fabric – something waterproof. I used the disposable plastic picnic tablecloths. You could use vinyl or PUL or even laminated cotton.

Pieces to cut:
18 1/2 in. x 23in. – cut one each of outer fabric and lining
cut 2 circles each of outer fabric and lining – the diameter should be 7 inches
4 1/2 in. x 38in. – cut one of outer fabric
17 inches of 1 inch wide velcro – cut one each of hook and loop

Let’s get sewing! (Click on the pics to see more detail.)
Seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted.

Making the handles.

1. Take your handle piece and fold the two raw edges in toward the center, hot dog-wise (the long way). Press.
2. Fold it in half. Press.
3. Open it back out so that the raw edges are still folded in to the middle. Place the two short ends right sides together lining up the raw edges. Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You should now have one connected, continuous piece of fabric. Fold it in half like you did in step two. (Somehow I didn’t get pictures of all of this. Hopefully the explanation makes sense.)
4. Baste it closed.

Sewing the body of the bag

1. Place the lining and outer bag right sides together. Pin the two short sides together and sew.
2. Open out the bag and fold the seam allowance toward the outer bag. Stitch. (This step is optional. No one will actually see this stitching, it just makes it easier to press in the next step.
3. Flip everything so that the outer bag is on the top and the lining is on the bottom. Press the short sides. Be sure to use a pressing cloth so you don’t melt the plastic!

Next you’ll be sewing on the velcro.
-Take one side and fold it to the wrong side 1.5 inches. Press. Place the velcro on the folded part and sew it on. You’ll be sewing through the velcro and two layers of the bag.
-Flip the bag over so that the lining is on the bottom and the newly velcroed section is away from you. Sew the other strip of velcro here.

Attaching the handles

This is the only somewhat tricky part, and only because it involves a bit of measuring and marking.
1. Fold your handle in half and mark the two centers (the upside down pin). Then mark 3 inches to either side of the center. (The other two pins. This is where you will eventually be sewing your x-boxes.)
2. On the bag piece, mark 7 3/4 inches in from the edge on both sides.
3. Now mark 3 1/2 inches down from the short edges (the ones with the velcro sewn onto them). So you should have four spots marked (just ignore all of the pins, I marked more than I ended up needing to mark.) Each pin should be 3 1/2 inches down from the short edge and 7 3/4 inches from the side. Place your handle so that the outer pins are just inside the marks on the body. The center pins should be close to the velcroed side.
4. Sew along both sides of the handle, leaving the portion above the markings unsewn (this is the actual handle portion), and sewing x-boxes at the markings.

Finishing it up

-Pin the circles for the bag and lining right sides together. You should have two sets.
-Serge the edges (or baste together however you’d like).

1. Velcro the bag closed and then flip it inside out.
2. Pin the circles to the ends of the bag, clipping the bag where necessary to get it to fit. Stitch. Undo the velcro and turn the bag right side out.

Sit back and admire your mini lined duffel bag!

Packing a sewing machine April 18, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects, Tutorials.
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Recently, I had to pack up six vintage sewing machines for a cross country move.  It was a daunting task, to say the least.  I scoured the internet and found only a few sources with tips on how to best pack a machine.  Although this was for a cross-country move, you could use the same tips to pack a sewing machine for mailing.  I would have been comfortable sending all of my machines to their new home via the mail.  I  took pictures of the process so that I could write up tutorials on how to pack a machine so that it will arrive undamaged.

Before starting, I was to thank Monty of Monty’s Singer pages and Bob Bannen of Sew2Go for getting me going in the right direction.  I took their ideas and modified them and expanded them to suit my needs.

As I get the tutorials up, I’ll come back and add links.

Packing a heavy, cast iron sewing machine (Singer 201)
Packing a heavy sewing machine in a wooden case (Singer 237)
Packing a 3/4 sized sewing machine (Singer 99)
Packing a vintage, metal sewing machine (Singer 403)

Making dryer balls and dyeing wool tutorial January 29, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects, Tutorials.
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While I was trolling tutorials on the internet, looking for Christmas gift ideas, I came across several for dryer balls.  I’d not heard of them before, and was intrigued.   You can buy them, but they are some sort of plastic and apparently are VERY loud.  Ostensibly, they are supposed to soften up your clothing, take care of static cling, all while lessening the drying time.  I’m not altogether sure that it actually works, but they were fun to make and they sort of make me feel a little more green.

Here’s my version of how to make the dryer balls.  I didn’t have tons of wool yarn, but had oodles of wool scraps, so I used the scraps as the core.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First you have to make the outer portion.  I had a bunch of grey wool from an old coat.  Grey just seemed so “blah” so the kiddies and I decided to dye the wool.


  • kool-aid, whatever color/s you like
  • vinegar
  • wool scraps
  • wool yarn
  • thread

Cut your wool into almond shaped pieces.  Mine were about 2inches wide at the widest part and about 3.5 inches tall.  (Notice that the ends are flat rather than pointed.  This will make it MUCH easier to sew together.)  Take the cut pieces adn soak them in warm water while you prepare the koolaid dye.

The amount of kool aid you use depends on how deep and rich you want the color to be.  I used one package per pan.

You’ll want 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar.  I generally eyeball how much to use.  You want to have enough water/vinegar to completely cover up the wool.  Since my pieces were rather small, I only used about two cups total of liquid (1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup vinegar).

Pour the liquid into the pan and stir to mix the kool aid.  Bring water almost to a boil.  Get your wool from the bowl and squeeze out any excess water.  Place the wool in the pot, making sure that it is flat and that all surfaces of the wool are immersed in the dye bath.  Keep poking at it with a wooden spoon until you see that all of the color has left the water.

Now remove the pan from the heat and wait for the water to cool.  Don’t handle the wool until the water is cool, you don’t want to get burned, right?

Once it is cool, remove it from the water and squeeze out the excess moisture.  I place them on cooling racks to allow them to dry completely.  The drying time will be dependent on the thickness of the wool.  Mine was pretty thin, so it only took an hour or two.

While the wool is drying, you can work on making the inner part of the dryer ball.

Take you wool scraps and cut them into strips.

This is the tricky part. . . . grab as many of the scraps as you can fit into your fist.  Get the wool yarn and start winding around the wool in your hand.  After a few winds, the scraps should hold together and you can wind away.  Be sure to change directions every now and again.  Keep winding until all of the scraps are covered and you have a nice little ball.  Mine had a circumference somewhere between 9.5 to 10 inches.

Okay, back to the dyed wool.  Now you can decide how you want the color laid out.  You will need six wedges for each ball.

Sew each of the wedges together from tip to tip.  When you get to the last one, make sure you leave an opening to a) turn the ball, b) insert the wool ball that you wound up.

The picture on the left is the “bag” waiting to be stuffed.  The picture on the right is stuffed, waiting to be sewn shut.

Push the ball into the little “bag”, and then seal up the opening with a slip stitch or whip stich.

Now go use your new dryer balls.  I have 5 that live in my dryer.  I’ve read that 6 is the magic number.  I’ve used as many as eight.  It probably depends on how large you make the dryer balls.  In any case, you’ll need more than just two=)

7 minute no sew gift “bag” tutorial December 1, 2010

Posted by Judy in Tutorials.
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So you are getting ready to go to a party and realize, “Shoot, I don’t have any birthday wrapping paper!” or “Nuts, I could have sworn I had some extra gift bags laying around!”  or “(insert your own dilemma here)”.    You don’t have time to sew up a nice little bag, no time to go to the store . . what to do, what to do?  Simple, you throw together a 7-minute gift bag.   Actually, this took me 7 minutes only because I was taking pics and fighting with my silly camera.  Senza pics, 4 or 5 minutes, tops!

Materials needed:

  • pinking shears
  • fabric
  • ribbon

Step 1:  Gather your materials

Step 2:  Cut your fabric to the appropriate size.  Plop the gift on the fabric, gather up the sides into the center and cut.  Alternatively, you could just guess how much you think you’ll need and cut a square with your pinking shears.  Doesn’t have to be perfect, just big enough to be able to get bunched up into the middle.

Step 3:  Tie your ribbon around the gift.

Step 4:  Stand back and admire your work!!

Recycled longies (wool or fleece) tutorial December 2, 2009

Posted by Judy in EC adventures, Sewing projects, Tutorials.

Since I’ve decided to go CD full-time, I’ve realized that wool longies and shorties are definitely necessary. Although there are several good tutorials already online, I couldn’t find one that did quite what I wanted: shorties/longies that weren’t skin tight and that looked like real pants. Most of what I found gave directions for making longies out of the sleeves . . . . but then what happens to the rest of the wool from the sweater? You could make a butt sweater or butt sweater longies, but as I mentioned before, I wanted mine to look like actual pants. Sooo, here’s my version: shorties/longies with a good amount of ease that look like actual shorts/pants and use the non-sleeve parts of wool sweaters!

This particular tutorial is for shorties made from felted wool, but you can use all of the same basic formulas to make longies as well. Plus, this can be used to make shorties/longies out of fleece. I like to tighten up the measurements a bit for the wool, but you can experiment to see what works for you and your LO. (more…)

Super organized purse tutorial – aka “the attaching purse™” August 4, 2008

Posted by Judy in Diaper bag, Sewing projects, Tutorials.
Tags: , , , , ,

I finally finished it, the tutorial for my “attaching purse©”. I’ll admit, it’s a long tutorial with lots of pics, and some parts probably seem complicated. It’s not as beastly as it seems. I’m sure there is a MUCH more efficient way to both make the purse and write the tute, but I’m an amateur and it’s my first tutorial =)

The finished purse will measure 11 x 7 and is 3 inches deep. It has four pockets, I use them for cell phone, lotion, chapstick, and keys. There’s room for a wallet (I made mine using this tutorial with a few revisions) and sunglasses. The loops on the back are so I can attach it to whatever diaper bag I happen to be carrying around. The strap is used when I’m on my own – senza babies and diapers – just me and my purse!

Note: All measurements are in inches unless otherwise noted.


Boxing corners tutorial July 29, 2008

Posted by Judy in Diaper bag, Sewing projects, Tutorials.
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NOTE: found some mistakes here, so the changes are in red=)

Welcome to the “all-the-information-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-boxing-corners” tutorial. I’ve included several different ways to box corners as well as how to design them and have them turn out the right dimensions. I’ve tried to make it clear, but it’s easy to get confused (happened to me LOTS! see Brain Strain and Ready, set, sew!), so leave me a comment if you need more help, okay?!

Let’s start by learning how to sew a boxed corner. (Of course, if you are just dying to know how the algebra works, just click on one of the links below and you’ll magically leap to that section =)

The two main methods of boxing corners are what I’m calling the “cut-out method” and the “folding method”. With both of these methods you can start out with two separate pieces of fabric that get sewn together, or you can have one piece of fabric that gets folded over.