Carry All Project Tote

Sew many things, sew little time! Sorry, it just had to be said – there are a lot of things going on in the next few months and I need to be better about managing my sewing and designing time.  This is the year I really want to take a step forward with turning Keep It Thimble into something more than a blog – and I working over the past few months on some things that are helping in that regard.

One thing I am planning is to have three of my patterns written, tested, and published before the end of this year.   The first pattern is called “Carry All Project Tote”.  This is a working title, so if you have any title suggestions, please send them my way!

Carry All Project Tote

This tote was inspired by the popular L.L Bean tote bags, but with a twist (of course).  My version features two exterior pockets, one in front of the other, and it also has a bit of the lining that peeks out on the top to form a nice contrasting edge.  Another nice feature is that this tote is very sturdy and stiff so you can easily reach inside to get things without the bag flopping over.  The dimensions are the perfect size for a few books, sewing supplies, and other project needs.  It would also make an ideal library tote.

The pattern will be written up by the end of July and then it will be tested in August/September and ready for purchase in October – if all goes well.    That may be an optimistic schedule, but I have to start somewhere don’t I?

In other news, the group involved in the Porch Sale had a meeting yesterday.  We have expanded to about 17 vendors and should have a nice variety of things to offer.  Mark your calendars for Oct 14th and 15th.

Keep it Thimble!

Solar System Party!

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted – time gets away too quickly!   This weekend my son had a solar system birthday party.  You may recall that he had a “space” party last year at this time, but in his mind “solar system” and “space” are different somehow.

Zippered Pencil Case

For the favors this year, I made the kids zippered pencil cases.  They can use them to carry school supplies and other little treasures.  There was a bunch of rocketship and planet fabric left over from last year (since I didn’t have time to make anything except an apron).  The zippered cases are fast and easy to make and hopefully I will get a tutorial posted on them in the next few weeks.

Zipper Pull

The zipper pulls were some space themed charms from Oriental Trading Company.  They are attached to the zippers with some lanyard hooks from Wal-mart (found in the children’s craft section).  In addition to the charms, I bought a whole bunch of space things from Oriental Trading Company – it was basically like a solar system party in a box.

Solar System Party Favor

If spend about $50 on one of the value party packs (they have many different themes) you can get everything you need!  The “space” party theme included an inflatable solar system, cup/plates/napkins, 3 craft projects, 3 party favor items, and cardboard decorations of space things.  All in all a good deal and a huge hit with the elementary school crowd.

I Love You!

My son had a great time and was so happy with the favors I made for his friends.   He made me a special note with his drawing tablet to thank me!  I love the fancy lettering he used.

Keep it thimble!

Lunch Bags and Ballet Bags

Miraculously I finished both the ballet bags and lunch bags that I posted about last week!  I was pretty pleased with how both projects turned out, but also glad I didn’t have the pressure of sewing deadlines!  The next big deadline I have is getting ready for the Porch Sale in October (more details later).

Lunch Bags

Heather Bailey’s Jack and Jill pattern is very cute, but the bags were not as simple to make as I thought.   And since I was making two bags at the same time, any missteps I made were multiplied by two!   Laminated fabric was used for both the interior and exterior  – this is a medium weight fabric that is lighter than oilcloth, but sturdier than cotton.  It was very easy to work with – and I had no issues with cutting or sewing with it.  I did have a teflon foot which made the fabric slide very easily through the feeddogs.  If you don’t have a teflon foot you can also use the walking foot.

The pattern instructions were clear enough in most places, but I think she may have missed a minor step when you have to cut out the fabric for the side tabs.  Easily remedied, but it slowed me down because I spent a few minutes looking for the missing step.

Lunch Bags with Accessories

The thing that is most confusing is keeping the top and bottom oriented correctly on the top flap.  The finished flap works just like a brown paper lunch bag – you pinch in the sides and fold over the top twice.  Velcro secures the flap, so precise placement of the hook and loop strips is important.  You must also stay on your toes when sewing the lined flap to the bag body so you don’t sew it in upside down.  This is very easy to do – take it from me :).  I spent about 30 minutes ripping out stitches since I didn’t realize my mistake until three seams later!  Thanks goodness I didn’t make the same mistakes on both bags.

Once finished, I added in a plastic sandwich holder and small soup-thermos (color coordinated, of course).  The teachers loved them!

Ballet Bag for Pointe Shoes

The second project were the ballet bags from my friend April.  I plan to post a tutorial about how to make them in the near future – so stay tuned!   The cute thing about these bags was the monogram in the lower corner.  You can use the iron-transfers for the craft store – there are many styles and colors to choose from.

Pink Ballet Bag

Keep it thimble!

Works in Progress (aka WIPs)

May has turned out to be fairly busy work wise, which means a lot of my sewing projects have been put on hold or left until the last minute.  There are two projects that I  need to finish by Friday evening.  So, I think I will be busy for the next few evenings  – but at least it is a fun kind of busy!

WIP - Lunch Bags

The first project is a gifts for my son’s teachers.  His last day of school is on Friday and I want to give them something special to thank them for all they’ve done this year.  Every teacher needs a lunch bag, and Heather Bailey’s Jack and Jill pattern is the perfect one!  I’m using laminated cotton fabrics for this project, which is something I’ve been looking forward to trying  — I’ll let you know how it goes.  One teacher gets a blue bag and the other gets a pink one!

Fabric for Ballet Shoe Bags

The next project is ballet shoe bags for my friend who runs the dance studio Graceful Expressions.  Each year at her recital, the graduating girls receive a beautifully handcrafted bag (by me) for their ballet shoes.  Apparently, this is a tradition the girls look forward to, so I have to make sure they are not disappointed this year.  There are two different types of ballet fabric  – the pink is for the younger girls and the red for the older ones (it looks more chic).

I’ll post finished projects later.  Keep it thimble!

Giveaway – Tulip Purse!

As promised, there will be more giveaways this year.  I meant to do this earlier, but time is just flying by!

Hot Pink Tulip Purse

This charming hot pink Tulip purse is the first giveaway of 2011!  It is the perfect accessory for your spring wardrobe. It also makes a fun little sewing case.  There are a few ways to enter and you will get one entry for each one (so if you do all four things, you will be entered four times).  You can:

  1. Leave a comment on this post (include your email)
  2. Subscribe to my blog (see link on the top right-hand sidebar)
  3. Add a link to this giveaway on your blog
  4. Add a link to my blog on your blog’s sidebar

If you do items 3 or 4 on the list, please email a link to your post/blog at so I will know to add these entries to the hat!

The deadline for entering Wednesday night, April 20.  The winner will be selected randomly from all entries early Thursday morning.

Keep it thimble!

Tips for Sewing Charm Square Bags

It seems that I am living up to my “bag lady” name, this is the third or fourth bag I’ve posted in the last 2 months!  Bags are a great project because you can completely finish them with 2 – 3 sessions of good sewing time.  They are also very functional and make great gifts!

Sew Charming Bag - Small

If you are frequent reader you will know that I am crazy about charm square bags.  After making so many, I’ve come up with some guidelines for how to place the charms to create more aesthetically pleasing results:

  1. Place dark squares on bottom, medium squares in center, and light squares on top of the bag.
  2. Another variation is to alternate between light and dark squares on each row to create a checkboard of lights/dark.
  3. Be mindful of where squares are placed on the side and bottom, as these will touch squares on the other side of the bag when the exterior is sewn together.
  4. For pocket pieces or other accents that need to stand out from the bag, use the squares that will contrast the most in terms of pattern and then color.  For example, when working with a predominantly floral fabric line, use the squares that feature lines/shapes or other bold patterns.
  5. Group squares of like colors when creating pockets.  This sets off the pocket as a decorative element on the bag.  Additionally, you can alternate two different colors or two different values to create something that looks unified.
  6. When choosing fabric for the handles, pick a medium tone.  Since the handles provide a unifying element to the bag I find that medium tones blend better with the bag.
  7. Don’t have squares of the same pattern but different color touching each other (but they can be placed diagonally from each other if needed).
  8. Mix up the small, medium, and large patterns in the square placement.
  9. Avoid using the solid colored squares (this is just personal preference since I like to show off all the fabric patterns in the bag).
  10. When only using part of a charm pack, it is useful to focus on using 4 – 5 colorways.  For example, I had a charm pack that featured red, white, light blue, dark blue, and black.  I entirely removed the black and dark blue from the choices.  However, you can use these colorways for lining or handles.

This is Sew Charming Bag by Rose Hip Lane and is by far my favorite!   You can make two sizes small (shown above) and large (shown below).  The large bag contains a nifty divided pocket that has room for notebooks, pencils, and other supplies.

Charm Tote
Charm Tote - Large

One reason this bag stands out is because of the ruffle on the pocket and top of the game.  The ruffle is easy to create and sew on – even for beginners.  You start by cutting two strips of fabric and then you join them to create one long strip.

When joining strips, I prefer using a mitered seam since it has less bulk and looks more polished.  Here’s a quick tutorial on how to create a mitered seam:

Step 1 – start by putting your strips right-sides together at right angles to each other.  On the top strip, use a pin to mark where the bottom strips ends (this way you can clearly see where the strips overlap to make a square).  Take a ruler and draw a diagonal line from left to right.  Refer to the picture to make sure you are drawing your line in the correct place.

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 1

Step 2 – Sew along the line you just marked.  Before cutting off the extra corner, open up the two strips to check that they match up and you have created the miter correctly.  Now, you can trim off the excess corner.

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 2

Step 3 – Press the seam open and you will have a nice diagonal seam joining the two strips together!

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 3

Keep it thimble!

Gracie Handbag

Here’s a fun bag called the Gracie Bag from Lazy Girl Designs.  It’s very easy to make and it’s something even a beginner could do.  The Lazy Girl Design patterns are great because they are well-written and have lots of pictures.  You could complete the purse just by looking at the pictures (although I wouldn’t recommend it).

Grace Handbag

The classic style and details on this bag make this a fashionable bag for most any occasion – it definitely does not look “homemade.”  I rounded the tab on my bag for a more finished look.  I also used a different color top thread and bottom thread so that that edge stitching on exterior and lining matched the fabric appropriately.  This is a small thing, but these details can make a difference!

Gracie Handbag - Koi Fish

In other news, there are a few things in the works for this month:

  1. Free Pattern (it’s a surprise, but a quick easy one, perfect for summer)
  2. Giveaway (sometime in the next two weeks)
  3. Reader Survey (I want to get some information on what you’d like to see on the blog).

Keep it Thimble!

Miranda Day Bag

The Miranda Day Bag by Lazy Girl Designs is great for toting around sewing projects, books, magazines, children’s toys, or anything else you need to take with you on the go.  The handles on the bag give it a very elegant look and you can dress is up or down depending on the fabric used.

Miranda Bag - Exterior

This version uses the Heritage line from Collections for Cause by Moda.  It is one of my favorite fabrics!  The birds were fussy cut for the best placement.  I love how this little guy is all alone and is looking off into the distance at something.

Miranda Bag - Interior

The bag is very sturdy – the exterior is quilted and fusible fleece is used on the interior.  This helps the bag stand up so you can easily put things in and taken them out of the bag.  The interior includes lots of pockets so you can keep everything organized!

Lazy Girl patterns are really easy to use.  The designer includes a photo of each step in the picture, as well as detailed cutting instructions.  You can practically make the bag just by looking at the pictures (however I always encourage you to read the instructions too)!  The true definition of “keeping it thimble.” (Couldn’t resist that one).

Quilted Sling Bag

Just a quick update on my 2011 Goals (see “goals” tab at the top).  I’m pretty happy with how well I’ve been able to follow through on some of my goals for this yea.  The Etsy shop is still in the process of getting set up, but I’ve set a deadline for having some inventory in there by the end of April.  A few tutorials have been posted and there are ideas for a lot more!  My only area where I haven’t made much progress is in getting guest bloggers.  A few people are definitely interested, but haven’t had time to write something – so that will likely happen over the summer.

Quilted Sling Bag
Quilted Sling Bag

This is a quilted bag that was featured in the April 2011 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  It is designed by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts.  The picture in the magazine was too cute for me to pass up;  it reminds me of a Vera Bradley bag with the quilted fabric and the modern lines.

While I am happy with the finished project, it was more time-consuming and a bit more challenging than I expected it to be.  There is nothing difficult per se about the pattern, it’s well-written and straight forward, it’s just hard to make this look as good as the picture on the first try.

One area of trouble was gathering the corners so that bag had a nice round shape.  My bag looks more like a rectangle with rounded corners.  Not a super big deal, but the shape of the bag is important.

The binding was also a challenge.  In the instructions, she uses a single fold binding that is machine sewn on one side and then the other side is folded over and hand-stitched.  I machine stitched both sides since I knew this would go on the UFO pile once I had everything done except the hand stitching.

You can’t tell in the picture, but the binding around the handles is not the neatest.  There is an unattractive place where the binding overlaps and is bulky.  Also, since it is stitched by machine, you can clearly see the crooked seams on the underside of the binding.  It took a few hours to apply the binding – it is a 5 step process – you bind each of the four curves on the top of the bag, then go back and bind the handles.  Once I get better at binding, I could see making this again.  It would go much faster!

But, it’s a fun little bag and I really like the fabric.  I’ve had this fabric for awhile, and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.  It makes a nice spring bag.

Keep it Thimble!

Party Favors

My son is at that age where he gets invited to lots of birthday parties, so I am always on the look-out for fun little things to make for party favors and little gifts.

This first favor is one I made for my son’s Pirate themed party.  The pattern is the Child’s Coloring Bag from Clothesline Quilts.  What’s great about these bags is they don’t take up a lot of fabric and you can easily make 8 in about 90 minutes (which includes the time to quilt the fabric).  Next, go to the Dollar Tree and pick out some crayons and other little things to go inside!

Pirate's Booty Party Favor

The next favor is a Zipper Critter by Indygo Junction.  The pattern comes with three different sizes and three different types of of animals (dog, cat, pig).  It’s great for using up scraps and any old zippers you have laying aroud.  What’s nice is that you can personalize the fabric choice for each child, or do it all based around a theme.  These critters also make nice package decorations – especially the smaller one that is attached to a lanyard.  One of these takes about 30 minutes to make (although you can speed things up if you want to make several by cutting them all out at once and sewing them assembly line style).

Zipper Critter

Keep it thimble!